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British Keelboat Academy

The British Keelboat Academy (BKA) gives competitive dinghy racers aged between 18-24 years-old the skills to move into the world of keelboat and yacht racing

The aim of the BKA programme is to take competent dinghy racers and kick start their own keelboat racing pathway, whether that is professional or amateur.

As well as technical skills, the academy programme will develop teamwork, leadership, project management, physical fitness, and communication skills. Skills not only crucial for a career in keelboat sailing, but also transferable to life outside of sailing.

Applications are now open for 2024/25 entries and will close on Wednesday 25 September 2024.


What to expect

The BKA programme involves a mix of training weekends, online sessions and opportunities to get out on the water racing.

Whether you want to be a helm, foredeck crew, afterguard, or trimmer the BKA will provide you with opportunities on a range of boats to broaden your experience and see what appeals to you most. To become a well-rounded keelboat racer it is important to develop an understanding of as many different positions onboard as possible.

Sailors from the BKA will develop some ability in all positions onboard, however we recognise that individuals will want to focus on specific areas to help them move in the direction they are motivated. To balance both goals, the ‘crew positions’ are simplified into three areas:

  • Foredeck - inc. Bow, Mast and Pit
  • Trimmer - inc. Pit, Spinnaker Trim, Jib Trim and Main Trim
  • Afterguard - inc. Main Trim, Helm and Navigation/Tactics

Training weekends

If your application is successful you will be expected to attend a series of training weekends. Please see the 2025 dates and locations below.


25-26 January 2025

Queen Mary Sailing Club, London

Symmetric spinnaker handling – working as a team, boat handling

8-9 March 2025

Port Solent, Portsmouth

Inshore yacht racing – bigger teams, navigation, boat speed

22-23 March 2025

Hamble, Southampton

Offshore training (optional at an extra charge)

5-6 April 2025

Cowes, Isle of Wight

High performance asymmetric - decision making at speed, acceleration

Online theory sessions

Online sessions will round off your knowledge about practical sailing and are likely to include:

  • Boat Electronics
  • Engine maintenance
  • GRP and alloys
  • Rigging, ropes and hardware
  • Navigation and tactics
  • Toolboxes and quick fixes
  • Sail making and repair
wide shot of keelboats on the open water
3 smiling young people posing a and waving at the camera on the back of a keel boat
a group of young people wearing sailing standing on the shore and smiling at the camera
dynamic shot of young people sailinga keelboat on the open water


Please be aware that accommodation and food are not included for the training weekends. Where possible, we hope to be able to provide accommodation on-board for the Selection and Inshore weekends.


Applications are now open for 2024/25 entries and will close on Wednesday 25 September 2024.


  • You must be available to attend the selection weekend on 23-24 November 2024.
  • You need to be a resident in the UK and available to train and race in the UK.
  • You must be aged 18-24 years-old during the squad year

See Notice of Selection for full criteria.


Once you have been selected for the squad and confirmed your place, you will be added to a Slack group for all squad communications. Although emails will go to squad sailors with initial invites, many last-minute changes and updates will be circulated in Slack.

Dee Caffari front portrait
"Quite often the pathway to make a change into a different environment in sailing is not always clear. The British Keelboat Academy helps sailors transition from dinghies to keelboat racing and cruising. The selected sailors experience a variety of boats and roles to help them identify what they like and what they want to do more of. I am looking forward to sharing my experience and helping the future generation of sailors achieve great things."

Dee Caffari, BKA Chair

After the British Keelboat Academy

With your determination and the BKA’s coaches to guide you, you will be ready for a specialist programme. Programmes we work with include:

Etchells Youth Academy Cowes - logo

UK Etchells Youth Academy

Royal Ocean racing club logo

RORC Griffin Squad

Jog Logo

Generation JOG

Young Tigris logo

Young Tigris

Magenta Project Logo

Magenta Project

Cowes Match Racing logo

Cowes Match School

Royal Thames Yacht Club logo

RTYC Academy

RYA logo

RYA Match Racing

We can also help you diversify your racing pathway, with support and links to Keelboat Team Racing, National Match Race Series, UK Double Handed Offshore, British Keelboat League, class associations, and RYA recognised training centres and clubs.

If you have any questions please email the RYA Keelboat Team.

Useful resources

Lots of people getting instructed

Current BKA Members

6 Boats racing

BKA Alumni

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Gill – Official Clothing Sponsor