Northern Ireland sailor RyanSeaton took to the water at Lake Attersee, Austria, earlier this month tobattle it out at the Europeans with the other half of his 49er duo SeafraGuilfoyle.
They finished 26thin the overall in the event, which took place from 28 September to 4 October -no mean feat after a difficult few months.
The pair who have just beenable to get 30 days sailing in the last six months due to Covid-19restrictions. Setting out for their journey to compete in Austria, they alsohad to borrow kit as theirs is still on its way home from Palma after competingthere earlier in the year.
Seaton explains that theEuropeans were very different to the usual event: “With it being COVID19 times, it made big changes to the racing, wedidn’t have any measurement or social gathering at all. Masks on and nohugging, though it was great to see all the other sailors from the big Olympicfamily.”
Commentingon their result, Seaton says: “We were happy with how well we sailed under allthe circumstances and to be racing in gold fleet with others who have sailedmore and who were using their Olympic kit.
“Tosay conditions were shifty is an understatement. We had 60-degree wind shiftsand many of times, we couldn’t cross the start line on starboard tack The eventorganisers did a great job under the circumstances.
“Seafraand I kept really positive. We used this event as an opportunity to get morehours on the water, in preparation for next year’s Olympic qualification inPalma.”
Whileit is difficult to plan in the current Covid-19 climate, the pair are lookingahead to 2021 and preparations are underway.
Theyplan to sail in Ireland until the beginning of December and then travel toVilamoura in Portugal to race in better conditions alongside internationalteams and log quality hours. They will then move down to Palma until April totake part in camps and sail at a small club regatta, working towards the PalmaRegatta, an Olympic Qualification event at the end of March.
Seatoncomments: “We are super motivated now to get lots of hours on the water. We aimto get 20 days a month completed and we are in the process of getting our kitall back home and sorted in preparation for next year.”
RYANorthern Ireland’s Performance Manager Andrew Baker says Seaton is on course toa solid year of racing ahead.
“Thiswas Ryan’s first real event of the season and was a fantastic opportunityto compete in a world class field. He has now got a feel for the fleet and hisstrengths and weaknesses within it. RYA Northern Ireland is pleased that Ryancan now enter the Winter training phase with a clear pathway and goals toachieve.”