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British Keelboat Academy aims to put young sailors on fast track to sailing success

by Will Carson, RYA 15 Aug 2018 19:05 BST 3-4 November 2018
British Keelboat Academy aims to put young sailors on fast track to sailing success © British Keelboat Academy

Applications are open for the 2019 intake of the British Keelboat Academy giving young dinghy sailors an amazing opportunity to get on the fast track into yacht or keelboat racing.

"The British Keelboat Academy gives sailors an opportunity to learn the skills to get them on a boat and keep them there. It's not just about improving sailing skills, but the aim of the Academy is to produce well-rounded sailors who have the life skills to offer something valuable to any boat that they get on," said BKA head coach Niall Myant-Best.

Following a combined training weekend in November where the sailors will get the chance to meet each other and network with sailing professionals they'll have access to a series of skills clinics over the next three months covering match racing, symmetrical boat handling, inshore racing and high performance asymmetric skills but the BKA also strives to provide sailors with a community which supports them in their aspirations.

"The BKA differs from a normal squad in that it provides a community of like-minded people that our members can access 24 hours a day to get advice, assistance and news of opportunities to go sailing," added Myant-Best.

Members of the this year's BKA have found paid positions with Volvo Ocean Race teams, raced with the Fast 40 class, competed in international match racing events and taken on the RORC Round Britain and Ireland Race.

For Conor Banks, being part of the 2018 BKA has led to the chance to sail on RAN in the Fast 40 fleet and he says he'd recommend the BKA for anyone looking to kick start their sailing career.

"I was doing a lot of keelboat sailing, but I didn't have a clear view of where to go or how to get there," explained Banks. "The BKA really is a great platform to start a professional sailing career. There is a good, clear pathway that helped me to get to where I wanted and achieve my goals.

"The most helpful thing has been all of the opportunities through the BKA which come up virtually every week. But the close relationship that you build with the coaches is equally important. It's brilliant to have the ability to phone or email them whenever you need help or advice."

"I'd absolutely recommend applying for the BKA," added Banks. "Having the chance to sail with RAN has been the biggest most amazing opportunity I could ever ask for. I'm so grateful to the BKA for that and couldn't be happier."

The deadline for applications is 4th October with the first BKA training weekend taking place on 3-4 November for those who are successful. Applicants much be aged between 18 and 24 on 1 November 2018. To apply go to rya.org.uk/go/bka.

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