The driver of the new Germany SailGP Team Erik Heil has said he ‘couldn’t resist’ joining the global racing league of SailGP, highlighting the league’s pairing of ‘the best sailors and the fastest boats in the world’.

Germany was unveiled as the latest nation to join SailGP’s world class line-up of racing talent, just weeks ahead of the start of Season 4 in Chicago. The fledgling team will be driven by double Olympic bronze medallist Heil, while double Olympic champion Kahena Kunze will step into the role of strategist. The rest of the crew are yet to be announced.

Team owner Thomas Riedel and Heil appeared alongside co-investor and four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel at the SPOBIS conference to announce the news.

Heil revealed the team had already undertaken ‘10 training sessions’ in San Francisco in preparation for the start of the new season.

Strategist Kunze reflected on her first ‘challenging’ experience of sailing an F50, specifically ‘dealing with the G Force on board’.

“I didn’t even know how much force it was, but it was really intense and things happen so fast that you need to have full attention the whole time,” she said.

Heil also hinted at the line-up of the new crew, which will include ‘a mix of experienced sailors who have worked for SailGP and some new German sailors’.

“Right now, we have about six Olympic medals on the boat, which might be a good start for us in the beginning,” he said.

Germany | Team Photo

However, he admitted that the team was likely to experience a ‘steep learning curve’.

“In the beginning for every team, it’s just progress which is the most important goal,” he said. “With a small amount of time on the boat, it’s important for us to push as much as we can and get the most out of it.”

Vettel was quizzed about why he became involved in the German team, which marks his first professional move since retiring from Formula 1 last year, and cited ‘the parallels that have been mentioned between F1 and SailGP’.

“If you make it exciting then at some point people will want to join,” he said, highlighting SailGP’s ‘thrilling’ racing action.

Sebastian Vettel and Erik Heil announced the Germany SailGP Team in May 2023

He added that the league’s sustainability credentials were key to his decision to join SailGP.

“There are a lot of sports events around the world and lots of people coming to those events, but there’s a certain responsibility growing with that as well,” he said. “I think SailGP is tackling that in a very aggressive and different way, which sets examples, and it’s exciting for me to become involved in that and to try and contribute.”

Team owner Riedel was quizzed about his hopes for the team’s performance in its first season, stating that ‘in the beginning, it’s about progress’.

“We need to be realistic and understand that this is a high tech, high performance sport and with the training and practice time we have, you shouldn’t except too much in the beginning,” he said.

“Really we want to see performance and if the learning curve is as steep as we hope that will be great.”

Germany will have its SailGP racing debut when the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier gets underway on June 16-17.