Record numbers for British Keelboat League 2024 season openers

Compete with your club for a place in the final or Europe
20 Mar 24

Young teams racing a fleet of Sonar keelboats upwind in sunshine at the first Qualifier of the British Keelboat League 2024 at Queen Mary Reservoir London.

The British Keelboat League has kicked off its 2024 season in style.

A record number of teams raced in the first two BKL qualifiers of the year and two British clubs have been competing with the SAILING Champions League in Europe.

The BKL aims to break down barriers to keelboat racing with a #rockupandrace series offering inter-club fleet racing at venues around the country.

With a rigged and ready-to-go fleet of keelboats at each weekend qualifier, teams compete in a series of short sprint races against other clubs.

The top teams are then invited to a national final to battle it out for the overall BKL title and a chance to compete in the SAILING Champions League 2025.

This year’s final will be hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in September 2024.

Schools championship

The first two teams to qualify for the BKL 2024 final are Ryde School with Upper Chine and Sherborne School after the season got underway with the BKL Schools Championship in London ( 9-10 March 2024).

Eighteen teams from 11schools took the opportunity to race the Royal Thames Yacht Club’s fleet of Sonar keelboats at Queen Mary Sailing Club, in an event promoted by the British Schools Dinghy Racing Association.

More than 40 races in total saw Ryde School with Upper Chine posting an impressive series of results to finish first overall with 12 wins, five 2nds and three 3rds, with Sherbourne Gold second overall and Oxford third.

As Brian Mumford, Head of Sailing at Kings School Canterbury, summed up: “What a great event!”

A school team in action putting on pole for spinnaker and sailing downwind in a Sonar keelboat at Q1 of the British Keelboat League 2024.

Scottish students march forth

Elevens team competed in the second qualifier of the year with the BKL Forth/Scottish Student Sailing Keelboat Championship (16-17 March 2024).

Organised by Scottish Student Sailing and Port Edgar Yacht Club, Inverkeithing Bay on the Forth provided the backdrop for the racing in Hunter 707s.

The Saturday saw a building breeze and sunshine for an action-packed 14 races but a lack of wind on the Sunday meant it wasn’t to be on the second day.

Strathclyde University, with two teams in first and second overall, qualified for one place in the BKL final, and Dundee University in third overall claimed the other spot.

Scottish Student Sailing thanked all who supported the event, including race officer Eilidh Millar, Port Edgar YC, K-Sail, RYA Scotland, Tunnocks and the volunteers.

Fleet of 707 keelboats racing upwind on a grey day with Forth Bridge in background for Scottish qualifier of British Keelboat League 2024.

SAILING Champions League

Teams have also been in action with the SAILING Champions League in Europe after qualifying with last year’s BKL.

Marconi Sailing Club and West Hoe Sailing club competed in Vilamoura, Portugal (15-17 March), finishing 12th and 15th respectively.

Although neither qualified for the final, as Marconi SC helm Dan Nickalls explained afterwards: “It was a fantastic few days of high-quality racing. We were genuinely competitive throughout, our boat handling underwent some minor transformations learning from other teams and our tactical skills developed as we learned from our mistakes. Exhausted but happy!”

West Hoe SC’s Tom Low said his club’s newly assembled team was on an “almost vertical learning curve” but had relished the challenge and enjoyed “the honour of sailing in such a highly competitive international event”.

British teams at Sailing Champions League Qualifier 1

Next up for British clubs in the SAILING Champions League will be teams from Royal Thames Yacht Club and Solent University competing in Berlin, 12-14 April.

Marconi Sailing Club team in action in sunshine with Sailing Champions League - QUALIFIER 1, VILAMOURA, 2024, with GBR Union Jack flag with MSC flying from keelboat transom.

Take part!

Could your club make it to the 2024 BKL finals and win through to compete in Europe?

Entries are now open for the third qualifier on the calendar, the Women’s BKL Championship, sailing asymmetric RS21keelboats.

Part of the Women’s Open Keelboat Championship, 11-12 May at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Hamble, early bird entries close 31 March 2024.

The BKL is open to teams from any British sailing club. Look out for entries opening in for the rest of the 2024 qualifiers and save the dates!

  • 18-19 May, Royal Corinthian YC, Burnham on Crouch, Hunter 707
  • 15-16 June, Marconi SC/Stone SC, East Coast, Essex, SB20
  • 20-21 July, Rutland SC, Midlands, RS21
  • Date to be confirmed, BKL Sailability, WPNSA, Dorset, Elliott 7M
  • 27-29 September, BKL Final at Royal Southern Yacht Club, J70

Keep up to date with all the news by following @britishkeelboatleague on Facebook and Instagram and at British Keelboat League.