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Golden Boys Ryan Seaton & Matt McGovern Deliver at Trofeo Princesca Sofia Regatta

2nd April 2016
Golden touch – Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast on their way to overall victory in today's thrilling medal race Golden touch – Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern from Belfast on their way to overall victory in today's thrilling medal race Credit: Jesus Renedo

In a thrilling medal race final on the Bay of Palma today, Northern Ireland's Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern won the Gold medal in the 49er skiff event at the Princess Sofia Regatta this afternoon. Seaton and McGovern started cleanly and led the fleet to the first mark but hit it forcing them to take a penalty turn that dropped them to ninth in a fleet of ten boats.

It was yet more drama after last night's giddy report that the pair had won Gold by a massive margin before protests had been heard. In a confusing scenario, Australia's Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen earned redress last night and although a podium for Ireland was still assured today only Gold would do for the Carrickfergus–Bangor partnership.

The skiff pair, who represented Ireland in the 49er at London 2012, worked their way steadily up the fleet to finish sixth, one place behind Outteridge and Jensen, more than sufficient to claim the Gold medal for Ireland. The best result of their 2016 campaign to date.

The result is a big endorsement of the progress the Ballyholme Yacht Club pairing have made, especially keeping 2012 Olympic Champions Outteridge and Jensen in second. Seaton summed it up: "To be so solid this week has been important. We have done a lot of work being able to go up and down the gears, a lot of the time sailing on our own. But we have done a lot of sailing. And we have re-established our training group we had before the last games with the Australians. So that has helped out in the lighter wind range. That is where our consistency has come. This was really a training regatta along the way, it's important but it is a great platform for us and the confidence it brings, winning a big regatta at this stage, is immense."

Seaton and McGoverns’ previous best results include Silver at the French Olympic classes regatta in Hyeres in 2014 and a Gold at the Weymouth pre-Olympic event in 2011. They placed 14th at the London 2012 Olympics.

ryan seaton matt mcgovern 

Already qualified for Rio in four month's time, the pair are members of the Providence Team Ireland ISA sailing squad as well as being RYA NI High Performance athletes. They are funded both by the Irish Sports Council and Sport NI’s Athlete Support Programme.


Preceding, as it does, the 49er European Championships in just over one week in Barcelona and the Sailing World Cup in Hyeres coming up in April, Palma regatta is considered a vital 'training' rather than 'outcome' regatta. Let's hope the Irish 49er form continues

Selected results:
470 Men: 1.- Mathew Belcher/ Will Ryan (AUS): 21pts, 2.- Stu Macnay/Dave Hughes (USA): 49, 3.- Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE): 57.
470 W: 1.- Agnieszka Skrzypulec/Irmina Mrozek (POL): 48, 2.- Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA): 50, 3.- Amy Seabright/Anna Carpenter (GBR): 52
49er M: 1.- Ryan Seaton/Matt Mcgovern (IRL): 75pts, 2.- Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen (AUS ): 88 3.-Diego Botin/Iago López (ESP): 97:
49er FX: 1.-Annemiek Bekkering/Annette Duetz (NED): 61 2.- Jena Mai Hansen/Katja Steen (DEN): 74 3.-Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke (GER): 93
FINN: 1.- Josh Junior (NZL): 51pts, 2.- Giles Scott (GBR): 78, 3.- Tapio Nirkko (FIN): 78p
LASER STANDARD: 1.- Andrew Maloney (NZL): 57pts, 2.- Robert Scheidt (BRA): 66, 3.- Tonci Stipanovic (CRO): 72;
LASER RADIAL: 1.- Tuula Tenkanen (FIN):55, 2.- Evi Van Acker (BEL): 64, 3.- Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN): 65;
NACRA 17: 1.-Billy Besson/Marie Riou (FRA): 60pts, 2.- Thomas Zajac/Tanja Frank (AUT): 104, 3.- Allan Norregaard/Anette Viborg (DEN): 109pts
RS: X M: 1.- Tom Squires (GBR): 28pts , 2.- Pawel Tarnowski (POL): 40, 3.- Byron Kokkalanis (GRE): 41RS:X W: 1.- Olga Maslivets (RUS): 44pts 2.- Flavia Tartaglini (ITA): 51pts, 3.- Lilian De Geus (NED): 56.
2.4mR: 1.- Heiko Kröger (GER): 8, 2.- Damien Seguin (FRA): 15, 3.- Helena Lucas (GBR): 16pt
DRAGON: 1.-Lady Tati (POR): 8pts, 2.- Sun Flower (RUS): 14 3.-Convergens (RUS): 16

Published in Olympic

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Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

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