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Leading German sports stars announce first Germany SailGP team

Two of Germany’s leading sports stars – four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and double Olympic sailing bronze medallist Erik Heil – came together today, alongside team owner Thomas Riedel, to announce the Germany SailGP Team. Germany will be the latest nation to contest the purpose-led global racing league, which kicks off its fourth season on June 16-17 with the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix at Navy Pier, Chicago.

The team brings together the best in German business and sport. Inspired by entrepreneur and investor Riedel – president of the leading communications company that bears his name – alongside his new co-investor Vettel, both will take an active role in the management and performance of the team. Heil, who won Olympic bronze medals at both the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, will drive the cutting-edge, hydrofoiling Germany F50, one of the fastest boats on water, capable of speeds nearing 100 km/h.

The new Germany SailGP Team was unveiled during SPOBIS 2023 in Düsseldorf where the team introduced itself and presented its ambitions for the upcoming season. SailGP co-founder and CEO Sir Russell Coutts presented a yellow wheel of the F50 to Heil and Vettel as a symbolic welcome to SailGP.

A passion for high-performance sports, an interest in the latest technologies and a shared belief in SailGP’s approach towards sustainability is what has brought Riedel, Vettel and Heil together for the joint campaign. All three are attracted to the high-tech competition of SailGP and all three appreciate the sustainable concept of the championship.

Riedel is no stranger to SailGP, as his communications company provides the entire on-site wireless communications and TV production infrastructure for the league as a technology supplier. The wireless network connects, among other things, the participants’ state-of-the-art catamarans, support boats, referee and camera boats, as well as drones and helicopters for aerial filming.

Riedel said: “As a company, we have always been able to not only understand formats but evolve them through technology and innovation. I see great potential in all directions with the Germany SailGP Team: sports, business and media. We believe that a great movement can emerge from this. In addition, we can credibly implement our concerns in terms of sustainability and diversity. That’s one of the reasons why I approached Sebastian as a trusted partner and knowledgeable technology and sustainability expert. Sebastian also knows how to win. So, he’s not just a co-owner of the Germany SailGP Team, but an equal partner who can help us succeed in everything we do. However we are aware that success is not something you can achieve in a few races, and it may take some time, but I believe we have the team to make sure it happens.”

Vettel said: “I see a lot of potential as SailGP starts its fourth season and for the first time with a German team. Parallels between sailors and Formula 1 have long existed. The boats are fascinating and the speeds on the water are incredibly high. The races are exciting and I am happy to be close to them with a motivated group of young sailors. In addition, the series not only uses wind power, but also strives to set new standards in sustainability in sports.”

The German team will compete in the first event of the global league’s fourth season, which starts in Chicago next month, June 16-17. In addition to Heil, female German-Brazilian double Olympic champion from Rio and Tokyo, Kahena Kunze was also announced as the team’s strategist. The full line-up will be announced next month.

Tim Krieglstein joins as Germany SailGP Team CEO. He was senior marketing manager for Red Bull for nine years and brings a lot of management experience in the field of events as well as campaign set-up and management. Alongside Krieglstein, Anne van der Wereld takes on the role of team manager. She joins the German team with experience from the around-the-world Ocean Race and as team coordinator for the New Zealand SailGP Team last season.

Heil said: “Today is a really exciting step in the team’s journey and we have pulled together an amazing team. But we are under no illusions that it will be easy and other world-class teams have paid a lesson when they entered SailGP. We will have to work our way up. That’s the goal. However, SailGP comprises the best athletes in our sport and personally I can’t wait to get racing.”

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