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Northern Ireland Olympic Sailor Ryan Seaton Preparing for Busy Training Season Ahead

19th October 2020
Ryan Seaton (right) from Ballyholme Yacht Club competing with Seafra Guilfoyle in Austria Ryan Seaton (right) from Ballyholme Yacht Club competing with Seafra Guilfoyle in Austria

Northern Ireland sailor Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough, took to the water at Lake Attersee, Austria, earlier this month to battle it out at the Europeans with the other half of his 49er duo Seafra Guilfoyle from Royal Cork Yacht Club.

They finished 26th in the 55-boat fleet in the event which took place from 28 September to 4 October - no mean feat after a difficult few months.

The pair have been able to get only 30 days' sailing in the last six months due to Covid-19 restrictions. Setting out for their journey to compete in Austria, they also had to borrow kit as theirs is still on its way home from Palma after competing there earlier in the year.

Seaton explains that the Europeans were very different to the usual event: "With it being COVID19 times, it made big changes to the racing; we didn't have any measurement or social gathering at all. Masks on and no hugging, though it was great to see all the other sailors from the big Olympic family."

Commenting on their result, Seaton says: "We were happy with how well we sailed under all the circumstances and to be racing in the gold fleet with others who have sailed more and who were using their Olympic kit. To say conditions were shifty is an understatement. We had 60-degree wind shifts and many times we couldn't cross the start line on starboard tack. The event organisers did a great job under the circumstances. Seafra and I kept really positive. We used this event as an opportunity to get more hours on the water, in preparation for next year's Olympic qualification in Palma."

While it is difficult to plan in the current Covid-19 climate, the pair are looking ahead to 2021 and preparations are underway.

They plan to sail in Ireland until the beginning of December and then travel to Villamoura in Portugal to race in better conditions alongside international teams and log quality hours. They will then move down to Palma until April to take part in camps and sail at a small club regatta, working towards the Palma Regatta, an Olympic Qualification event at the end of March.

Seaton comments: "We are super motivated now to get lots of hours on the water. We aim to get 20 days a month completed and we are in the process of getting our kit all back home and sorted in preparation for next year."

RYA Northern Ireland's Performance Manager Andrew Baker says Seaton is on course to a solid year of racing ahead.

"This was Ryan's first real event of the season and was a fantastic opportunity to compete in a world-class field. He has now got a feel for the fleet and his strengths and weaknesses within it. RYA Northern Ireland is pleased that Ryan can now enter the Winter training phase with a clear pathway and goals to achieve."

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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Olympic Sailing features a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards. The programme at Tokyo 2020 will include two events for both men and women, three for men only, two for women only and one for mixed crews:

Event Programme

RS:X - Windsurfer (Men/Women)
Laser - One Person Dinghy (Men)
Laser Radial - One Person Dinghy (Women)
Finn - One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) (Men)
470 - Two Person Dinghy (Men/Women)
49er - Skiff (Men)
49er FX - Skiff (Women)
Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull

The mixed Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull and women-only 49er FX - Skiff, events were first staged at Rio 2016.

Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position: the winner gets one point, the second-placed finisher scores two, and so on. The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled. Following the medal race, the individual or crew with the fewest total points is declared the winner.

During races, boats navigate a course shaped like an enormous triangle, heading for the finish line after they contend with the wind from all three directions. They must pass marker buoys a certain number of times and in a predetermined order.

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venues: Enoshima Yacht Harbor

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dates

Following a one year postponement, sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 23 July 2021 and run until the 8 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venue: Enoshima Yacht Harbour

No. of events: 10

Dates: 23 July – 8 August 2021

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