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British Keelboat Academy

The British Keelboat Academy (BKA) is aimed at young people aged between 18 and 24 to develop the skills they need to become a keelboat sailor capable of sailing keelboats at a national level. Several Alumni have gone on to sail internationally or to become industry professionals.

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. We believe that to develop well rounded keelboat racers it is important to develop an understanding of as many different positions onboard as possible.

This one or two year programme covers many aspects of training, racing, boat maintenance and personal preparation. The skills learnt are invaluable for dinghy sailors that might be looking to transition into the keelboat world or those looking to take their keelboat sailing skills to the next level. 


Sailors from the BKA should develop some ability in all positions onboard. 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’ will be 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 are planned over the winter:

  • December – Online theory covering all roles on the boat 

  • January - Symmetric spinnaker handling - working as a team, boat handling - London 

  • 4/5 March 2023 - Inshore Yacht Racing - bigger teams, navigation, boat speed - Portsmouth 

  • April - High performance asymmetric - decision making at speed, acceleration - Cowes 

As well as technical skills, the British Keelboat Academy programme will develop your teamwork, leadership, project management, physical fitness, and communication skills. These skills are not only crucial for a career in keelboat sailing but they are also transferable to life outside of sailing.

BKA provides you with great opportunities; you are exposed to a wide range of boats and disciplines that enable you to quickly learn what you enjoy the most. You will make friends and friendships which last! - Ellie Clark BKA 19/20

Specialist modules

As well as individual modules driving the weekend, there will be shoreside modules to round off their knowledge about practical sailing. These may include, but will not be limited to:

  • Boat Electronis
  • Engine maintenance
  • GRP and alloys
  • Rigging, ropes and hardware
  • Navigation basics
  • Toolboxes and quick fixes
  • Sail making and repair

Additional benefits

  • Crewsearch - working with clubs such as RORC we help to place sailors on top UK raceboats
  • BKA crew gear with discounted marine technical clothing
  • Discounted professional RYA training courses

To apply for the British Keelboat Academy, keep an eye out for the 22/23 entry - applicants must be available to attend the selection weekend on the 19/20 November 2022, if invited. You need to be a resident in the UK and be available to train and race in the UK. Applications are normally open between early August and late September. You need to be aged 18-24 years old during the squad year, see selection criteria.

The Selection weekend will be a chance for the coaching team to assess and review your sailing skills, aptitude, ability to learn, and to discuss your specific goals for the programme and personal performance on and off the water. Coaches will aim to tailor the weekend sessions to your requirements, so it is important to let them know what you want to achieve . 


Once you have been selected for the squad and confirmed your place, you will be added to a Slack group and a private Facebook group for all squad communications.  Although emails will go to squad sailors, many last minute changes/updates will only be circulated on the Facebook group and in Slack.



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.


Targets for the future:

These will be dependent upon the squad sailors’ ambitions, but may include: Rolex Fastnet, Cowes Week, Scottish Series, IRC European Championships, World Sailing Nations Cup, Eurosaf Match Racing Championships.

Any questions, please contact RYA Keelboat Development Manager - Richard Moxey.

023 8060 4166

All other general enquiries to