Friday 22 September 2017

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern right in medal hunt

Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern of Ireland sail in the first race of the 49er class
Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern of Ireland sail in the first race of the 49er class

James Hall

Ireland's skiff sailing pair of Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern began their first Olympics with a strong display off Weymouth yesterday where they confirmed their potential to reach the medal race.

The Belfast duo placed fourth in their opening race and followed this with an eighth place to finish sixth overall in the 20-boat fleet for the day.

The skiffs were one of the first disciplines into action at Weymouth yesterday on the Nothe course just off the holiday town promenade. The proximity to the shore meant the westerly breeze was slightly sheltered, which added to the complexity of the 30-minute opening race.

Conditions freshened slightly for the second race but all crews had to be wary of the wind direction flicking around which would affect their standing.

Seaton and McGovern have sailed extensively at Weymouth and like Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial and Peter O'Leary and David Burrows in the Star, are familiar with the waters and the local effects.

The skiffs differ from the other classes in that these are light-weight boats that feature big sail area requiring considerably agility as well as unique boat-handling skills during high-speed races.

Meanwhile, James Espey from Bangor finished his first Olympic Games in 42 place out of 49 boats in the Laser men's single-handed class. A late qualifier for the games, he had been campaigning outside the official Irish Sailing Association programme until June.

The fifth team boat in the Irish line-up goes into action on Thursday when Ger Owens and Scott Flanigan begin the 470-class event.

Irish Independent

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