Kahena Kunze, the incoming strategist for the newly announced Germany SailGP Team, has described stepping on board the F50 for the first time as ‘insane’.

The German-Brazilian double Olympic champion, who picked up gold medals in Rio and Tokyo, joined driver Erik Heil and the rest of the freshly announced German crew in San Francisco.

The fledgling German crew shared the Spanish F50 with Diego Botin’s team and undertook eight days of crucial practice following the Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final.

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Close up of Germany F50

It was a baptism of fire, with the new crew heading out into wind gusts of 37 km/h. Kunze got behind the wheel of the F50 and practiced steering out of maneuvers.

“Everything is happening so fast and your mind really needs to be thinking as fast as the boat,” she said. “It was challenging but I was loving it, the feel of the G Forces during the maneuvers was epic.”

Several athletes with previous F50 sailing experience, including former Swiss wing trimmer Stuart Bithell and SailGP veteran James Wierzbowski have been unveiled in Germany's crew line-up.

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Kahena Kunze German strategist crew

“It’s much easier when you’re sailing with people who know the boat - they gave me lots of pointers, such as when to deliver comms to Erik,” Kunze said, adding that the crew ‘improved every day’ they were on board.

A new challenge is ‘sailing on a boat with English comms’, Kunze said, revealing she is ‘trying to study as much as [she] can’ in preparation for Season 4’s opening race in Chicago.

Chicago expectations

When it comes to competing for the first time, Kunze and Heil’s expectations are of course to ‘be competitive’ but are also realistic. “We are starting when a lot of teams have already done three seasons, so we can’t have our expectations super high,” she said. “Everyone has the mentality of learning the boat and improving as a group.”

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Germany F50 in practice

There are now just days until Germany makes its SailGP debut on the waters of Lake Michigan and Kunze can’t wait. “Everything is so new for us, but we just want to start.”

The Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier will take place on June 16 & 17, with racing kicking off at 16:00 CDT. Full broadcast information and How To Watch details are HERE.