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Northern Ireland Olympian Ryan Seaton Says New Slipway at Carrickfergus Sailing Club is a 'Game-Changer'

3rd November 2020
Ryan Seaton (right) and crew Seafra Guilfoyle on Belfast Lough Ryan Seaton (right) and crew Seafra Guilfoyle on Belfast Lough Photo: Ryan Wilson

Olympic sailor Ryan Seaton is back training at his home club in Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough following the completion of a slipway widening project.

In past campaigns Ryan has had to train away from home because the slipway at Carrickfergus was unsuitable for launching a high-performance dinghy.

Part-funded by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the new slipway means Ryan, who represented Ireland in the 49er Class at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, can now launch safely and undertake his winter training on familiar waters for the first time as he bids for a place at next year's games in Tokyo.

With qualification for the much-anticipated competition just around the corner, Ryan and his crew, Seafra Guilfoyle from Royal Cork YC and University College Cork Sailing Club, are busy training and making plenty of use of the new slipway as Seaton aims for this third Olympics in a row. The duo competed in Austria at Lake Attersee last month to battle it out at the Europeans, as Afloat reported here.

The newly widened slipway at Carrickfergus Sailing ClubThe newly widened slipway at Carrickfergus Sailing Club

Ryan said "Carrickfergus and Belfast Lough is one of the best sailing locations throughout the UK and Ireland but I was unable to take full advantage of training on it due to the lack of a slipway suitable for my dinghy. This new facility is an absolute game-changer for me and will make a huge difference as I can now continue my professional sailing career at my home club and complete some vital training ahead of Tokyo 2021 qualification".

He continued "My thanks are extended to Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for making this possible and improving my training opportunities."

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said the initiative will be a boost to the entire sailing community. "As a Council, we are proud to be able to assist with this very worthwhile project and wish Ryan every success as he aims for next year's Olympic games. This new feature is a boost to both the Club and other users and will hopefully inspire others to get involved and may even produce a few future Olympians."

Betty Armstrong

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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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