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Sara Price podiums in first ever UIM E1 World Championship electric boat race

Published On:: 16/05/2024

Price and co-pilot Lucas Ordonez guide the Westbrook Racing craft, owned by actor Will Smith, to a 3rd place podium finish in Venice, Italy

Just when you start to wonder “What’s Sara Price up to these days,” the Monster Energy-backed motorsports star checks in from Venice (Italy) where she just podiumed in a hyper-cool electric boat race… in a boat owned by actor Will Smith.

Wait, what?

Sure enough, Price was competing for Westbrook Racing in the inaugural UIM E1 World Championships – an eco-friendly and sustainable form of racing on water featuring the innovative “RaceBird” watercraft.

And Will Smith?

“Our team is truly where racing and entertainment collide,” says Price.

Leave it up to Sara to, just when she finally gets the sand of the Dakar Rally’s Empty Quarter out of her race boots, to land in a ride in an electric race boat – and with very limited seat time in the RaceBird – she managed to pull off a podium finish in her very first race! tracked down Price in a flight somewhere above the Atlantic and got her story on this incredible race effort, some info to get the Monster Army up to speed on the new UIM E1 World Championships and these bitchin’ boats they get to race.

(Before you jump into Sara’s interview, take a sec to check out the RaceBirdsMeet the Racebird - E1 Series)


Monster Energy: Sara! This is so rad. Congrats from everyone at Monster Energy on your podium finish this past weekend in your very first electric hydrofoil powerboat boat race. That’s huge. Talk a bit first about your team, Westbrook Racing – owned by actor Will Smith – and how you landed a ride with them.
Sara Price: It’s pretty awesome to be piloting for Will Smith, who is an incredible human being and legend. My teammate Lucas (Ordonez) and I definitely are grateful to be a part of this with him and such an inspiring fun team! Our team truly is where entertainment and racing collide, with Will’s company being the name of our team. Westbrook Racing is truly awesome the vibes are high and I truly believe that is why we were able to come in and race, work so well together to learn through the weekend and go beyond ourselves to get a podium our first race.

The obvious question… you’re primarily a dirt racer. Did you have any experience in the past racing on the water? 
I did not have any experience racing boats, but as a kid growing up in Southern California we would go to the deserts in the winter and the river in the summer. And now I just recently moved to the river in Arizona, and have been living on the water. So I’ve been around water and boats my entire life, but never raced them. It is very different (than dirt racing), but racing is racing. And so having raced most my life it definitely is easier for someone to jump into something new like this, with little experience, and have an easier time figuring things out than someone who has never raced anything before. But it’s definitely not easy let me tell you. (laughter)

Venice. What a cool spot for a boat race. Talk a bit about the course and the racing. Do you bang starboard-to-port gunnels down the straights and stuff you bow into corners?
(Laughter) We definitely don’t touch! That would be a very expensive fix. The E1 racing does remind me a lot of Dakar in a sense of rules and regulations being a key part to success in how you have to be. That and you’ve got to be so aware of your surroundings always. These boats are not easy to drive, that’s for sure. The whole goal is to stay on the foils, because when you fall off it takes a long time to recover. It’s all about feel, and being new to it we are still working on what that feeling is.

We checked these RaceBirds out on the E1 Series website. Any idea how fast they run… in miles per hour, not knots (laughter).
You can only go as fast as the foils will let you. So for example, the boat can go faster, but if you fall off of the foils you just lost all your speed. We are busy in the boat constantly playing with lift and trim to try to keep the RaceBird in the sweet spot. 

Given your past racing experience, including an amazing finish at your first Dakar Rally this past January, how does dirt bikes and UTVs lend themselves to racing an electric boat?
In a way it’s all equivalent to an extent. Racing is racing, so it definitely helps coming from racing - but now you’re racing on a surface that moves, unlike solid ground. Also being aggressive doesn’t help you in the RaceBird it’s all about being smooth. So I have to definitely keep my racing intentions of pushing in check. 

Interesting. What’s it like running on foils? I’m sure you’ve ripped around Lake Havasu on all sorts of watercraft… have you ever run anything with foils before last weekend? 
I have not! What is so cool and interesting about the E1 series is that the RaceBirds are the very first of its kind, so really there is nothing to compare it to. And there is nothing you can really do or try that compares for training. I do want to get a wake foil, though. Being on the river everyday already, wake surfing can’t hurt, especially to add something with a foil for some training and staying sharp on the feel. One thing that has been great is a lot of team members on our team come from professional yacht racing and have experience with foils, so they have been amazing to work with and learn from on this new form of racing that we all are still trying to figure out.

You partner with co-driver Lucas Ordonez. How does that work in terms of switching seats during the race?
Lucas is absolutely awesome. Such a good person and such a force when it comes to racing. He is very passionate about racing and I love that about him. We make a great team. His background comes from on-road racing where he was the first person to win the Grand Turismo GT Academy when they took a gamer and turned into a real race car driver. It’s an awesome story he has. He’s gone on to podium in races like Le Mans. In terms of the driving duties in E1, we both do an equal amount in the boat. So when we do qualifying I go out once and he goes out once. And it continues like that until the finals.

Alright. We thought Lucas’ name looked familiar. That’s very cool. Talk a bit again about the seat time you’ve had in the E1 race boat. Was it fairly easy to pick up? What were the main challenges? 
It definitely isn’t easy. To put it in perspective, it’s like standing on stilts when you’re constantly trying to stay on the foils and finding your balance. And I’d have to say trim is our best friend to control it. It was an intense process to get certified to race the E1 Series as it’s sanctioned by the UIM (Union Internationale Motonautique) and we had to go through detailed medical tests, levels of training in boats and also dunk test where they submerge us underwater and we have to be able to get out safely. 

Whoa. That’s not quite like showing up to a motocross race in jeans and cowboy boots, with a borrowed bike. What were the cockpit controls like, how were they arranged?
(Laughter). Yeah, the RaceBird steering wheel is pretty complex. There is a lot going on in the cockpit and you definitely feel like you are in a spaceship. And it also looks like a spaceship! 

Being that the boat’s electric powerboat, what was the sound like?
The sound is actually pretty cool, kinda like a big RC boat. But you can hear the foils slice thru the water to and you definitely feel it and hear it when you fall off the foils. It’s pretty aggressive when that happens. 

In looking at some of the race video, visibility goes from clear to zero as soon as you get caught in the roost (spray) behind another boat. Is that anything like the dust of Baja?
100-percent. You can create your own water roost in the corner by leaning in too much. The wings dig into the water and it will completely blind your view, and the water will start to come inside the cockpit. As for being behind other boats, it’s not too bad, but the other boats cause waves and those are not our friends - along with turbulence or cavitation in the waters. I’ve been learning a lot to say the least about tides and currents.

So there’s like five more rounds in the E1 Series. Are you planning on racing them… will your dirt schedule allow for it? 
Yeah. Actually, I was originally supposed to race E1 and had talks in December this last year, but timing didn’t work out with Dakar being my focus. It was so important for me to get my first Dakar under my belt and give it my all. On the way home from Dakar I stopped by an E1 race before getting on the plane as they were having their first race in Saudi Arabia and it was very cool to bring my Dakar team to see the boats and how they were being raced. I really just wanted to see what happened after Dakar and wanted to do the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship, but funding just didn’t work out in time. So we decided to not do the WRRC. Right after that I got the offer from Will Smith’s team, Westbrook Racing, to be a pilot for E1. It truly just was perfect timely and really was just meant to be. I will be competing the rest of the series and keep building with Westbrook Racing to see what the future holds, while still training and preparing for my future Dakar efforts.

Up next… The UIM E1 World Championships continues June 1-2 in Puerto Banus, Marbella (Spain) with Round 3 of the series. For more information link to