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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Sophi Horne: From Seabird to Racebird

Sophie Horne

How did you develop into concerned with designing the Racebird for the E1 World Championship, the newest electric-vehicle racing collection created by Alejandro Agag following System E and Excessive E?

I’ve been within the business for over a decade. One in every of my early design jobs was with a superyacht constitution and administration firm. At first, I used to be concerned within the interiors of the yachts for refits. Nonetheless, my boss noticed some exterior sketches I did throughout my free time and mentioned he noticed a future for me on this path, though I by no means believed I’d design for myself someday. He launched me to naval architects who invited me to tender for yacht designs, which was a superb introduction.

I then continued my training and studied in Norway. Oslo is called the capital of electrical automobiles, so I noticed the transition to electrical automobiles and the transfer to electrical within the marine business. On the identical time, Uber and the sharing platforms began. Mixing all this collectively, I had the concept of attempting to make boats extra out there and to provide an electrical boat, so I began Seabird Applied sciences.

With a single Mercury Racing E1-X electrical outboard, the 23ft Racebird has a 150kW peak output plus 35kWh battery capability

I used to be a little bit gradual to purchase my very own electrical automobile as a result of the designs had been typically very ‘cute’ and bubble-like. For me, while you purchase garments or a automobile, you need them to signify your picture, so I used to be searching for one thing extra smooth and horny.

I then noticed System E’s Gen2 electrical automobiles (launched within the 2018-19 season) and beloved them. They had been sort of my design inspiration and I wished to seek out another person who had the identical imaginative and prescient. The Gen2 designs had been very cool and the occasions and the way they had been offered had been very aligned to what I used to be searching for.

System E’s Gen2 automobiles impressed Horne’s Racebird design

To supply my boat, I began with a sharing platform and tried to discover a accomplice who already constructed boats. I additionally researched the batteries, to have a look at adapting the know-how from electrical racing automobiles to the marine world and create a brand new product.

I went to a System E race and met Alejandro Agag, the king of electrical motorsports. I offered my thought for a 7m electrical leisure boat, not for racing. I had been growing it for a yr and had a full marketing strategy.

Horne with E1 co-founders Alejandro Agag (left) and Rodi Basso (proper)

It was extra for me to have a chat with him, in order that possibly he may make introductions. A month later, he referred to as me again and wished me to do a extra detailed presentation, then he turned my first investor. I by no means believed he would develop into so concerned.

How did your preliminary electrical boat design evolve into the Racebird we see right this moment?

I had moved to London and was absolutely targeted on the personal boats. Nonetheless, I used to be sharing the identical workplaces as System E, so I used to be surrounded by racing individuals. Throughout Covid, Alejandro took a stroll with Rodi Basso (CTO of Seabird Applied sciences from September 2020-August 2022, now CEO of E1).

Seabird mannequin launch at Yacht Membership de Monaco in 2021

Issues had slowed down, so I feel they had been a little bit bored and so they got here up with this lovely thought of the E1 World Championship, introducing electrical racing to the water.

The thought overlapped with the beginning of Excessive E, offroad racing in electrical SUVs, which began in 2021. I feel they had been on this inventive bubble and seeing what they might do with electrical racing. By then, they knew the applied sciences and had the provider networks, having earlier arrange the System E street racing collection.

Horne toasts with Prince Albert of Monaco

After they conceived E1, they requested me to alter focus for a yr to design a raceboat. The transient was ‘make one thing cool’. That was it. Two months later, we had been in Monaco with a 3D render. All of it occurred very quick, nevertheless it was finished to showcase the imaginative and prescient.

We primarily sportified the leisure boat idea I used to be engaged on, with the foiling system and all the things, and it appeared to work. The primary venture was ‘Frankenstein’, the place we used an current hull and fitted the foils to check them. Then we did a prototype.

A Racebird on the E1 check occasion in Rotterdam final September

The present boats are being inbuilt Italy and the primary 4 hulls had been used for the E1 preview check occasion in Rotterdam in September 2023. I used to be fairly nervous, however all of them labored. It has all occurred so quick. We’re not allowed to go over 50 knots, though they are often set as much as go quicker and we’ve reached 60.

Have the groups bought room to adapt the boats, like with automobiles in System One, or is it strictly one-design?

For the primary season, it is available in one bundle. Having seen F1 and the distinction in budgets of the groups, we would like a extra even enjoying subject to see who the perfect driver is.

Poster of pilots for 2024 E1 collection

Excessive E began in 2021 with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button amongst workforce house owners, and Sebastian Loeb among the many drivers. Nonetheless, E1 has gone to the following stage when it comes to movie star workforce house owners with Tom Brady, Rafa Nadal, Virat Kohli, Didier Drogba, Sergio Perez, Steve Aoki, Marc Anthony and Marcelo Claure. Do you assume the timing now could be proper to help e-mobility?

It’s rather a lot about timing but additionally the community that Alejandro has developed in System E and Excessive E. Individuals are searching for greener options and tasks. Nonetheless, I’ve been blown away by the help and we had been all a little bit bit shocked. I by no means dared to assume stars like this is able to be a part of E1.

Horne with Tom Brady

Nonetheless, for example, while you discuss to Tom Brady, it’s fascinating to listen to that he’s very passionate and has a relationship with the water. It’s one thing very pricey to him as a result of he’s spent a number of time on the water and has so many reminiscences from taking his children to sea, so it’s a heartfelt venture. The house owners have taken their time to contemplate E1 and so they wish to be part of it.

The 2024 collection opens in Jeddah. Are you enthusiastic about working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, which has such a powerful historical past in powerboat racing?

Completely and that is additionally related to timing, with the Crimson Sea growth and the Gulf area’s concentrate on growing sustainable know-how for all its new tasks and infrastructure. At Seabird, we additionally see an enormous marketplace for our upcoming merchandise within the many luxurious resorts.

Racebirds being trialled in Jeddah

E1 begins in Jeddah, whereas Riyadh already hosts System 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (March 7-9, 2024) and the area loves racing occasions. The Gulf has a few of the finest crowds and the area is already very engaged with this kind of spectacle.

Is Seabird trying past the Racebird and E1 collection with its personal merchandise?

The Racebird is our entry product. We’re additionally growing a Seabird of about 15m and three smaller fashions, nearer to my authentic mission of constructing boats extra out there. We’ll be utilizing foils on all our boats.

2024 E1 World Championship schedule


This text was first revealed on yachtstyle.co.

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