Groundbreaking Diploma in Sporting Excellence returns

Pioneering programme supports young sailors in sport and education
24 Aug 22
2 keelboats with women crewing are racing towards mark

Are you starting year 12 this September? Are you interested in racing keelboats? Do you want to have a future career in sailing or sports science? Are you looking to go to higher education after your further education? 

If you have answered yes to any of the above then this is your chance to apply for our the RYA’s Diploma in Sporting Excellence programme.

What is DiSE?

The Diploma in Sporting Excellence is a two-year education programme. It is a unique sporting qualification designed to meet the needs of student-athletes who exhibit the potential to achieve excellence in their sport.

DiSE supports young sailors in the talent system to combine sport and education so that they have the skills, knowledge, and competence to pursue sporting excellence alongside developing the skills and qualifications for a post-sailing career.

The programme provides a comprehensive syllabus to support young sailors to gain an additional qualification (worth 64 UCAS points) and achieve their full potential within the RYA sailing/keelboat pathway. The programme aims to increase the accessibility and diversity of the sailing participation base and talent pathway.

Each year the RYA bids for programme places through Sport England and Department for Education. This year we were successful in securing 12 places in an ever-continuing competitive process with all Olympic and non-Olympic sports.

Women keelboat racing, rounding mark

"We are tremendously proud of the impact and difference this programme has made within the youth classes and keelboat sailors,” said Jack Grundy, RYA Performance Manager and DiSE programme lead. “This programme has helped sailors’ next steps within the maritime, performance pathway and higher education options. More importantly, it has given them further development in all the small things like nutrition and psychology that help them mature into professional sailors for the future.”

Ellie Thomas, a 420 sailor on DiSE, added: "The DiSE programme has been hugely beneficial to my sailing. The training camps have been amazing with some great quality coaching. The theory sessions have helped me to understand what else goes into being successful within sport. The programme has run smoothly due to the great organisation, and it has been great to be a part of it."

Student eligibility

To be eligible for the DiSE programme, a student must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be aged 16 to 18 and starting Year 12 in September 2022, full-time education (or aged 19 to 24 if they have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan), when they start the programme.
  2. Inspire to progress onto the British Keelboat Academy or other future performance programmes.
  3. Students should be studying at a state education institute, or if a student attends a fee-paying school, they must be in receipt of one of a 50% scholarship. Please see the application form for further details.4. Ideally have a minimum of five GCSEs at a minimum grade of 4 (or above), including Maths and English.

Further information

  • We only have 12 places, and these are being run exclusively on a Keelboat programme, in line with Sport England's aims and impact of DiSE. Therefore, the technical and tactical sessions will be on a keelboat with other students who you may not have met before
  • The technical and tactical element (sailing) will usually take place over 8 weekends, with delivery over 18 months
  • The theory will take place at camps and remotely.  Access to laptops will be required
  • The programme is more than just sailing, you will be required to complete coursebooks and will have access to 1:2:1 sessions with a Sports Psychologist, Sports Nutritionist, Mentor and Coach sessions which are a part of the Diploma. You will also be required to record all sailing and training hours outside of the programme
  • The programme will commence in late October/early November
  • This form requires your parent/guardian’s consent

Application key dates

Applications must be submitted by 11.59pm on Sunday 04 September. If you have any issues with submitting the form, please email You will be notified by Friday 09 September 2022 if your application has been successful.

Apply now by completing our application form.