British Keelboat Academy announces 2024 squad

Fleet of J70s coming off a startline as part of a British Keelboat Academy exercise during a training weekend off Cowes with Osborne House on the shoreline.

The British Keelboat Academy (BKA) has announced its next wave of recruits for 2024.

The BKA supports dinghy racers aged 18-24 who are keen to develop the skills, confidence and connections to compete aboard keelboats across a wide range of disciplines.

With up to 40 places for 2024, a selection weekend in November enabled 65 would-be recruits to find out more, with coaches on the lookout for those demonstrating racing knowledge, a passion for learning, strong work ethic and the ability to work well in a team.

An onshore development day hosted by North Sails included a tour of the loft and demonstrations, a Harken hardware workshop and a Spinlock lifejackets session.

The Saturday evening dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Portsmouth then had time set aside for networking, with guests including Marlow Ropes and various clubs talking to applicants about the opportunities available for keelboat and BKA sailors.

Among those attending were Royal Southern Yacht Club, Royal Thames Yacht Club, and Royal Ocean Racing Club’s incoming commodore Dr Deborah Fish, OBE. The evening’s after-dinner speaker was inshore, offshore and SailGP pro-sailor Hannah Diamond.

North Sails demonstration with would-be British Keelboat Academy recruits looking on.

Inland and coastal

There was then an opportunity on the Sunday for the selection weekend attendees get out on The Solent aboard Sunsail’s one-design Sunfast charter fleet, with a cold, clear day and 8-10 knots topping 13 providing ideal conditions for those new to keelboat sailing.

Those invited to join the 2024 BKA cohort comprise sailors from across the UK, including Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, as well as from both inland and coastal clubs.

Richard Moxey, RYA Keelboat Development Manager, said: “It’s really pleasing to see that the latest BKA intake includes sailors from across the country and that they are mostly sailors from a dinghy racing background at the beginning of their keelboat journey.

“The BKA is committed to supporting those who wish to develop and convert their skills so they are able to become a valued and strong crew member and forge a pathway in keelboat racing. Congratulations to all those who have been selected to join the BKA 2024.”

Five young sailors problem-solving at a table with winch components in Harken hardware workshop at North Sails during British Keelboat Academy selection weekend.

Connecting to keelboat racing

The British Keelboat Academy now looks ahead to its first coached weekend on the water in Sonars and RS21s at Queen Mary Sailing Club in London at the end of January 2024.

Alongside online technical workshops, the calendar will also then include inshore yacht racing on the Solent in March with a focus on bigger teams, navigation and boat speed; and a Cowes-based weekend in April to work on high performance decision-making.

The BKA enables its recruits to not only develop keelboat and life skills such as leadership and teamwork, but also helps connect sailors with the world of competitive yacht sailing, whether professional or amateur; with alumni sailors in 2023 taking part in match racing, British Keelboat League events, Cowes Week and RORC’s offshore series, including the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Group of would-be British Keelboat Academy recruits looking on during sailmaking activity in loft at North Sails.

British Keelboat Academy 2024

Thalya Ambroziak (Hawley Lake Sail Training Centre/Frensham Pond SC); Hannah Baber (Pennine SC/Nottingham SC); Edward Baker (Chew Valley Lake SC); Alex Barone (Cardiff University SC); Alicia Biggs (Llandegfedd SC); Alfie Cogger (Coniston SC); Fraser Cowie; Ewan Craig (Bristol University); Felix Craig-McFeely (Sea View YC/ Cambridge University YC); Diogo Freitas; Henry Hallam (Restronguet SC/St Mawes SC); Rose Hallam (Restronguet SC/St Mawes SC); Oliver Heffernan; Magnus Jackson (Exeter University SC/Overy Staithe SC); Elin Jones (Gresford SC); Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boat Club); James Knight (Draycote Water SC/COYCH); Ollie Leeson (Queen Mary SC); Robert Mawdsley (Hayling Island SC); Eva Miller (Snettisham Beach SC); Ben Nicoll (West Oxfordshire SC); Ben Paling (Notts County SC/Draycote Water SC); Ed Rollestone (Hayling Island SC/Newhaven & Seaford SC); Jennifer Russell (Bristol University SC/Royal Cruising Club); Ben Salva (Rickmansworth SC/Glasgow University SC); Catherine Sears (Bristol University SC/Notts County SC); Nuala Sellwood (Restronguet SC); Luke Sheridan (Royal Victoria YC); Max Steele (Hooe Point SC/Wembley SC); William Symonds (Restronguet SC/Hebe Haven YC); William Taylor (Blackwater SC); James Teague (Abersoch SC); Victoria Theaker (Waldringfield SC/Combs SC); Isabelle Waha (Royal Southern YC); Juliette Welham (Grafham Water SC/ Cambridge University Cruising Club Senior Affiliate); Freddie Westwell (Hayling Island SC/WPNSA); Patrick Whelan (RLYC); Callum Williams (Glasgow University Sailing Club); Thomas Williamson (Datchet Water SC).

Find out more at British Keelboat Academy.

Fleet of J70s racing downwind with blue spinakers flying during a British Keelboat Academy training weekend.

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