Belfast Telegraph

World title bid, ahoy

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland sailing duo Matt McGovern and Ryan Seaton have enjoyed a successful 2013 so far and hope it becomes a whole lot better this week when they compete in the World Championships in Marseille.

Starting today, Seaton, from Carrickfergus, and Bangor's McGovern face a physically gruelling and potential 25 race regatta in the 49er category, but they are ready for anything that comes their way in the south of France.

And that includes the stiff competition.

Included in the high quality 96 boat fleet will be three-time World Champions and London 2012 gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jenson from Australia, who have most recently been competing in the America's Cup.

The silver medal winners from last year's Olympics, New Zealand's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, will also be in action with most experts suggesting the victors will come from those two teams.

McGovern and Seaton, representing Ireland, are not expected to win the title, but their first aim will be to cement a top 10 place early on in the regatta and if that ambition is realised, then they'll attempt to challenge for a medal later in the week.

It would be a monumental achievement if they could earn a podium finish, but the Sports Institute Northern Ireland supported sailors enter the World Championships feeling confident having claimed the biggest success of their careers back in June when they won the 49er title at the prestigious Sail for Gold Regatta at Weymouth, where the Olympics took place.

Bar the top two teams in the 2012 Games, all of the big hitters in the 49er class competed at Weymouth earlier this year.

The victory was a major breakthrough for the Ballyholme Yacht Club members, regarded as a pair with real potential since 2009 when they began sailing as a teaqm.

Seaton said: "That was our best win ever and it was brilliant for sailing in Northern Ireland.

"It showed if you put the work in guys from Northern Ireland like us can compete with anyone.

"That was our aim this year. We wanted to prove to people that we weren't just here for the lifestyle and to be sailing at different events around the world. We wanted to win medals and hopefully that was the start.

"We weren't too happy finishing 14th at the Olympics last year as we were aiming for the top eight. Now we are looking for a really solid showing at the World Championships."

Irish Sailing Association Performance Director James O'Callaghan said: "With the World Championships being late in the season it has given everyone a chance to get back up to speed post Olympics.

"Without doubt this will be the toughest event of 2013 for Ryan and Matt," he added.

Also competing at the regatta in Marseille, but in the female 49erFX class, will be Ireland's newest Olympic campaigners Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey.

The pair have only just begun sailing together and the World Championships will be somewhat of a baptism of fire for them.

Belfast Telegraph


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