The British Keelboat Academy (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.
The British Keelboat Academy will offer in the region of 60 individuals a one to two year programme covering all aspects of racing, training, boat maintenance and personal preparation.
As a part of the BKA, sailors get access to Crewsearch, a group with unlimited opportunities to join top UK boats. They also receive BKA uniform with discounted waterproofs and technical clothing, discounted professional RYA courses and get taught by some of the top UK coaches.
Competing in a range of events during the season, the Academy sailors will receive top class coaching on board from a variety of professional sailors. In addition to this, sailors will receive training ashore spanning subjects including winching, meteorology, navigation, racing rules, rig tuning and sail trim, with input from marine leaders and industry professionals.
As well as the technical skills, competing onboard a top level racing yacht requires teamwork, leadership skills, project management, physical fitness and the ability to communicate clearly under pressure. The British Keelboat Academy programme seeks to develop these areas equipping trainees with the essential skills that will benefit them both in their future sailing careers and in the wider world.
Sailors from the previous RYA schemes, have gone on to compete at the top level of the sport with over 40 currently working in the yacht racing industry including five sailing team members in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race, three America’s Cup or World Match Racing Tour participants and a number of former squad members now part of the Artemis Offshore Academy. However more important than this success the programmes have changed the lives of young people involved and given them the life skills and confidence to go on to be successful in whichever area they choose to work.
Testimonials from recent BKA squad sailors:
James Crampton “The BKA provided me with great opportunities to network
not only with other Members and Coaches but also the wider professional sailing
community; with the chance to intern for Team Aqua on the RC44 circuit in 2017
and get involved with a number of teams during the last Volvo Ocean Race. These
experiences were invaluable to kick-starting a career in professional sailing
once finishing University and came as a direct result of being part of the
British Keelboat Academy.”
"What is it about? The British Keelboat Academy is a
programme which has a selection of modules in many disciplines of keelboat and
yacht racing from match racing to offshore sailing. With coaching from
some of the industry’s top professionals giving the sailors access to a lot of
resources to help them achieve their goals and upskill.
What experience did I have prior to applying? As a young sailor I
was part of the British Sailing youth squad finishing in the Laser Radial fleet
when the excitement began to wear off and I looked at yachts as the next
obvious step in my development.
In my early time sailing yachts, I had thrown myself into racing in the
Solent on-board any boat competing in the RORC annual series and competed for 2
years in IRC 2 and 3, however the lure of the fast and exciting class 1
and 0 boats was definitely prevalent.
I tried to maximise my time with the coaches from emailing, skype calls
and meeting up in person during events and BKA weekends. This really helped me
get the most out of the programme and helped me work towards my
What skills did I gain from the programme? The most important
skill I have gained from the BKA is my ability to network and have the
confidence to ask. Through the BKA I had the confidence to start working as a
Junior Boat Captain for Race Yacht services, to approach Pinnacle Performance
for sponsorship which I have had for over 2 years and to apply for the Magenta
Project which allowed me to extend my network further. I also gained experience
in a variety of different boats, upskilled in CV writing and had a further
understanding in the fitness benchmarks it takes to be at the top of the
Where am I now? Since being a part of the Magenta project I had
an opportunity to do the delivery on Wind of Change from Toulon, France to
Trieste, Italy and had been asked back to race for the Barcolana 51 with some
of the top female sailors in the industry. After getting a recommendation from
one of my previous coaches I have been working for North Sails in Sail Service.
I have delivered the VO65 Sailing Poland from Plymouth to Gdynia, and during
quarantine I have been listening to podcasts, The Ocean Race interviews and
home workouts. I have aspirations of competing in the next Ocean Race."
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