New Look ‘Big-Boat’ Development Program. RYA and UKSA Team Up.


a-ben-willows4/5 sailing websites say “The future looks bright for Britain’s up and coming young keelboat sailors”. The latest press release about UKSA and the RYA announcing a new ‘British Keelboat Academy’ opens with the line that has been repeated verbatim by content hungy sailing media.

But ‘cut and paste’ journalism aside, it’s good news for young UK sailors. The RYA Keelboat Program has relied heavily on philanthropic support and corporate charters to fund the development of this area of the sport and the new announcement should add welcome stability. There is a tendency around the world to focus development money into Olympic classes and dinghies, so its great to see the UK investing some money into developing ‘big-boat’ talent.

The new programme combines the former RYA Keelboat programme and UKSA’s GBR Yacht Racing Academy giving those involved access to the expertise and facilities of both organisations. Run to RYA standards and delivered by UKSA’s head coach, Luke McCarthy, the British Keelboat Academy will offer 50 individuals aged 18-24  a one to two year mixed programme covering all aspects of training, racing, boat work, and electronics.

Ben Willows, Director of Operations at UKSA, said:

“We are delighted to be joining forces with the RYA to create the British Keelboat Academy. Both organisations are passionate about giving young sailors the opportunity to get out on the water. We hope to inspire and support even more young people and widen access to top level racing for those already involved in the sport and also for those that wouldn’t normally have the opportunity.”

RYA Racing Manager, John Derbyshire commented:

“Providing a constant stream of talented sailors into keelboat campaigns remains a key priority for this programme. We’re really pleased to be moving this into a new era and working with UKSA on this joint approach is exciting. The mix of expertise and resources UKSA and RYA are bringing to the Academy programme will create an invaluable and world leading training resource which will continue to produce top class keelboat sailors. We plan to develop and extend the network of sponsors and partners, many of whom have supported us throughout this year, as we seek to add more value to the programme.

The RYA and UKSA will continue to run the TP52 John Merricks II, provided by the John Merricks Sailing Trust for selected campaigns in 2010, and its ‘Crewsearch’ scheme which matches sailors with skippers and boat owners looking for young talent for their keelboat campaigns.