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Northern Ireland's Seaton preparing for busy training season ahead

by Emma Blee 21 Oct 2020 15:18 BST

Northern Ireland sailor Ryan Seaton 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.

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

The pair who have just been able to get 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 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 of 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 under way.

They plan to sail in Ireland until the beginning of December and then travel to Vilamoura 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."

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