There was a destiny written for this motor and sea enthusiast. A publicist by training, Cris Lazarraga (Madrid, 1993) was the first Spanish woman to become European jet ski champion in 2019. The pilot, who was twice crowned runner-up in the world in 2019 and 2021, suffered a serious accident during the first test of the 2022 European Championship in Italy that separated her from the competition. Currently, the nautical version of electric Formula 1 has given it a very promising second chance.

Lazarraga is one of the participants in the UIM E1 World Championship, the first electric boat world championship, as a member of Rafa Nadal’s team. This is an ambitious project that will visit seven locations around the world, including Puerto Banús, in Malaga. After the first race in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Team Rafa occupies third position in the ranking. We chatted with her about her return to the world of motorsport, her activism for the inclusion of women and the visibility of this minority sport on social networks.

How did you get the opportunity to participate in the UIM E1 World Championship?

I discovered the E1 thanks to the pilot Cristina Gutiérrez almost 3 years ago. Since then I followed the growth of the project and when the opportunity arose to go to the pilot academy I did not hesitate for a second. There we met many athletes from different disciplines, where they taught us basic notions about how to pilot a boat in a competition environment. Afterwards, the academy presented all the profiles of drivers who were interested in participating in the championship. It was then that Rafa Nadal’s team contacted me and, after several interviews, I ended up joining the team. A real pride!

When was the first time you first piloted an electric boat? You usually train with the jet ski in Alicante, has it been different this time?

The first time I piloted an electric boat was in November 2023 on Lake Maggiore in Italy and it was an incredible experience. I train a lot on a motorcycle between Alicante and Valencia, but I have to say that the boat, although at first it may seem like it, at the level of piloting they have absolutely nothing to do with it.

This is a competition in which all participating teams are mixed. Do you feel more comfortable this way?

I have always liked competing with boys. I love this type of competition because we finally see the same number of women as men and most importantly: we are equally or faster. In the times it is clearly seen that there are no differences between the sexes. It’s just a matter of piloting and I think that’s very good for us.

Right now, you and your teammate Tom Chiappe are third in the standings. What are your expectations in this championship?

Both Tom and I are very competitive and without a doubt our goal is victory. Even so, I think that for the first year a top 3 would be a very good result. The important thing is that we know that we have the level to be at the top.

Who are your main rivals?

I would say that at the moment our main rival is Team Miami—whose owner is Marc Anthony—because their male driver, the Swede Erik Stark, is a multiple-time world champion in Formula 1 boats and has a very high level.

Previously in your career as a pilot, you have stood out for your activism for the inclusion of women in the world of motorboating and, in fact, you got the World Federation to create the women’s category in the Runabout GP4 modality in the European Aquabike Championship in 2019 and in the world championships, starting in 2020. Social networks played a fundamental role in the call. How was that work?

It was a matter of time. Putting pressure on the Federation and showing them with numbers that it was possible to have a women-only category. At first I received several no’s until they finally decided to go ahead. In the last race I was in, female participation was higher than male participation.

You have not denied that in the motor world there is a certain machismo. In what ways do you think it manifests itself?

It’s not that I don’t deny it, it’s that I see it around me. There is an unwritten code that immediately places a woman with lower expectations than a man in terms of piloting abilities. Luckily, little by little we are showing that this is not the case.

Is this the reason why perhaps many women still do not dare to join competitions?

Personally, I compete in both categories, but I think that if there are women who do not feel safe in a men’s grid, then we should give them a category for women only. In practically all sports there is a division between genders.

In fact, your work promoting motorboating continues. Your role as a publicist has helped you give visibility to this sport. Any strategies that have been especially effective for you?

I think there are federations that are small that do not give importance to social networks and that is a complete mistake. I doubted whether I would be able to grow a profile like mine by dedicating myself to a minority sport, but in the end if you create valuable content, people will be interested. What has honestly been effective for me is to be consistent and create a strategy thinking about what the viewer would like to see.

Now that you have recovered from the injury you suffered in the 2022 European Championship in Italy, are you ready to compete again on the jet ski?

I’m more than ready, but I don’t want to anymore. The arrival of this new E1 championship is a much more ambitious project. I am very proud of my results on the jet ski, but I think it is time to focus on this new path.

Before debuting in 2017, you were already a true motor enthusiast. Where did your love for motorcycles come from?

Motorcycles, cars, boogies, quads… I don’t care as long as it has an engine! The fans come from home. My father is a real motor nut.

Did you have any type of pressure or impediment before competing? Because?

In my house there was only one condition and that was to study. When I finished university, I started my sports career and I have always had the maximum support from my family.

Now that you have an enviable track record behind you, what do they say?

I am lucky to be very well surrounded. My entire environment supports me to death and I am very grateful for it. The most beautiful thing about success is having someone to share it with. I always say that I have already won with my family and my friends, all the other victories are an added bonus.

Pilots like Cristina Gutiérrez or Ana Carrasco have been references for you. What would you say to those girls for whom you can be a reference?

Let them be encouraged! I understand that sometimes starting out can be a bit difficult, but no one is born knowing, so you have to have an attitude and not be afraid.