Olympian Ryan Seaton retires
With all the focus on the Tokyo Olympics and the “will it won’t it” narrative it would have been easy to miss the retirement of one of Ireland’s most accomplished sailors. Missing out on qualification for Tokyo brought an end to his illustrious Olympic career, but it’s rare that professional sports people get to choose when they call it a day. It was a tough decision for Ryan, but the time was right to move on to the next phase of his life.
Leaving the helter-skelter of 49er Olympic campaigning behind, Ryan now might get time to reflect on some of the highs during his time from Irish Sailing Academy athlete to Olympic team member. His CV is littered with top 10 finishes at World Championships and a medal race final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He and 49er teammate Matt McGovern took silver at the 2014 World Cup regatta in Hyeres only beaten by legendary Americas’ Cup winning helm and multiple Olympic medallist Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from New Zealand. Ryan and Matt went one better in 2016 winning the prestigious Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma. (This was the first senior event Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove attended in the 49er class - what an inspiration it must have been to see your teammates win the whole event).
Despite the impressive results ensuring his place amongst Ireland’s best ever sailors, Ryan’s biggest legacy will be with his teammates. Seáfra Guilfoyle teamed up with Ryan in 2017 in their bid for Tokyo selection and has now embarked on a new campaign as helm, doubtless full of knowledge and information from his former skipper. Likewise, it does not overstate things to say that Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove would not have progressed as quickly as they did had Ryan not been so open with information and tips.
Ryan was open because he was in pursuit of excellence. He knew that if the younger team got better it would push them all to get better. Rather than fear this he embraced it. He was, and will be a hugely positive influence around the team and a constant presence even on the tough days, of which there are many in high performance sport.
Ryan’s achievements on the water will be enriched by his experiences off the water. He has travelled the world, competing in his favourite spots of Belfast Lough and Lake Garda and beyond. He’s built a huge network of friends and colleagues, and met his wife through sailing.
Seafra Guilfoyle commented: ‘Ryan brought me into the 49er class. We spent so much time together over the last four years. We’ve had our ups and downs but through all of it grew close and together like brothers”.
Annalise Murphy added “I have been lucky enough to have had Ryan as a teammate since we were both teenagers and started out on the Youth Academy. Throughout our Olympic sailing careers Ryan has been a great teammate and an even better friend. He has supported me when times have been good and bad and he was always able to put everyone in a good mood. I know we are all going to miss him a lot not being on the team but I have no doubt that Ryan is going to be brilliant wherever life takes him !”.
James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director says: “Ryan was my first recruit into the Irish Sailing Academy when I started in 2005. Since then I’ve watched as he progressed through the Pathway achieving significant milestones at each stage. His passion never dwindled and he leaves a great legacy behind for our athletes to aspire to”.