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British Keelboat Academy 2016 applications now open

by Imogen Stanley, RYA 12 Sep 2015 13:48 BST 12 September 2015
British Keelboat Academy Elite Squad © RYA / UKSA

The British Keelboat Academy (BKA) is a partnership between UKSA and RYA. The BKA is designed to support young people aged between 18 and 24 in developing the skills needed to take their keelboat yacht racing to the next level, whether that is as a professional or an amateur.

Managed and delivered by UKSA, the BKA works with sailors from across all areas of the sport. The aim of the programme is to help sailors learn the skills and make industry contacts that will enable them to develop their sailing within the area they would like to pursue.

Since the programme's inception in 2003, ex-programme sailors have gone on to join Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) America's Cup team, Volvo Ocean Race teams, TP52 Super Series, Class 40 and Figaro programmes as well as racing on the World Match Race Tour and various other One Design and offshore programmes.

Rosie Watkins, a 2015 member of the BKA gained contacts, knowledge and insight into keelboat sailing that she would have struggled to find elsewhere: "I could never have envisaged how much I would gain from being a member of the BKA. The world class coaching, during the winter training, gave us the extra expertise we needed to go to the Etchells youth trials and be successful at winning a fully funded Etchells for the season.

"Not only has being a member of the academy significantly helped to further my sailing knowledge it has given me a true insight in to the world of keelboat sailing. The academy along with the Etchells youth programme has given me the opportunity to run an Etchells race programme for the year and experience the challenges which accompany this. This has been invaluable to me in developing my sailing experience- a side of sailing which I would probably not have been able to experience had I not been in the academy," Watkins concluded.

Sailors will receive coaching from a multitude of different experts across the sport gaining invaluable skills, experience and knowledge that will progress them in the world of keelboat racing.

The 2016 season will be split into three programmes; the One Design Programme, the Inshore Big Boat Programme and the Offshore Programme - each focusing on a different area. BKA sailors will train with their preferred squad but will also have opportunity to experience other areas of the sport throughout the season. The programme will not restrict the sailor in to one of the three areas but will actively encourage everyone to challenge themselves across the sport, creating new opportunities.

One Design Programme

The OD programme is aimed at three groups; those starting out in keelboat racing and looking to develop their basic skills and understanding, Match Racers looking to develop skills, meet new teams and gain training and funding towards national and international events; finally those looking to challenge for the international Etchells UK class youth selections trials and the chance to win a fully-funded boat for the year.

Training includes the dates below plus the option to participate in the RYA Winter Match Race Series.

Inshore Big Boat Programme

The Inshore programme will be aimed at the more experienced keelboat sailors with a couple of seasons of experience racing on a range of keelboats. The programme will use an IRC rated type boat, based in the Hamble, Southampton, and will compete in a number of events throughout the season.

Training includes the dates below plus a programme of inshore racing to be agreed with fellow squad members and owners.

Offshore Programme

The Offshore programme was a new programme in 2015 and is aimed at sailors interested in developing their offshore racing skills. The sailors will be able to plan their own program around the RORC offshore series and the JOG offshore series. There will also be opportunities to join other offshore campaigns throughout the year.

Training includes the dates below plus a programme of RORC and JOG races to be agreed with fellow squad members.

British Keelboat Academy Winter training dates (all sailors required to attend these dates):
28 November - All
15-17 January - All
12-14 February - All
11-13 March - All
18-20 March - Inshore Only
1-3 April - Offshore and One Design only
9 October - Review

To apply for the British Keelboat Academy, you need to be aged between 18-24 years old during the squad year. You need to have a British passport and be available to train and race on the south coast. The programmes include fitness sessions aimed at improving every sailor's personal fitness.

BKA applications close at 9am on Monday 19 October. To apply, please visit British Keelboat Academy website and click on 'How to Apply' and complete the form.

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