Germany team owner Thomas Riedel has said he is ‘cautious’ to set concrete targets or ambitions for the young team in its first season.

Speaking after the team’s racing debut in Chicago, which he said ‘exceeded [his] expectations’, Riedel said that in ‘such a complex sport’ as SailGP it’s important to be ‘careful with your expectations’.

Instead, he said, it’s ‘more important that we’re safe’. “We don’t want to see the boat capsize or anyone being hurt’.

Riedel said he conveyed his safety concerns to driver Erik Heil ahead of the team hitting the water in Chicago. His concerns were heightened following the cancellation of practice racing due to high winds.

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Germany racing in Chicago

“The racecourse in Chicago was super tight and I was basically scared that something might happen,” he recalled. “So I said to Erik, please play it safely - we want to see the start and the finish line and no more’.

When racing got underway, Riedel was therefore expecting Heil to be ‘super cautious’ and position the German F50 behind the rest of the fleet. But instead, Germany was the fifth F50 across the line, leading New Zealand, Denmark, France, Switzerland and Spain. Erik Heil’s new team impressed in its debut, wrestling with the mid-fleet throughout the first three fleet races.

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Germany crew line-up

“When I saw in the first race that the guys went up to the third position for a period, I said ‘oh my god’,” Riedel said. “I knew that we have the right group of people together and it was great to see them in the mid-field.”

While Germany finished at the back of the fleet after the event, the team didn’t finish a race in last place - leaving with an 8-8-7-7-9 results record. “I think that is a very good result for a first event,” Riedel said.

As the team settles into the season, Riedel said he expects the team to continue to ‘push’.

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Fleet races towards Navy Pier

“I see that all the sailors are super ambitious and I know they will push - I’ve seen it at the first event and we will see that at events to come.”

A key ambition of the season will simply be to build up experience. “We can’t ignore that the other teams have a lot of races in their archive of experience and we simply don’t have that,” Riedel said. “I think the first season is mainly to collect experience, to be safe and to learn.”

Germany will resume its Season 4 campaign at the inaugural Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix on July 22-23.

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