In September, Russell Coutts stated that there were no identifiable routes to the America’s Cup for younger sailors. Not only did the statement overlook events like the World Match Racing Tour, it also ignored programs like the British Keelboat Academy (BKA), which was set up to bridge the gap between club racing and being part of a professional team, either in the America’s Cup or offshore events like the Volvo Ocean Race.
While the America’s Cup may not be using keelboats for the 34th edition, top teams like Rán Racing, who will compete in the 2011 Audi Med Cup in a new TP52, have identified the value in having a depth of sailing talent to recruit from.
Niklas Zennström’s yacht racing team have backed up their belief in the British Keelboat Academy, allowing the programme the use of their Farr 45, Kólga. The BKA squad will have the opportunity to put together a Farr 45 campaign as well as learn from having Rán Racing team members on board for coaching. Rán Racing cover the running costs of the boat including yard fees, insurance costs and on-going maintenance.
RYA Racing Manager and BKA Director, John Derbyshire said:
“This is a really exciting opportunity for the Academy and it’s sailors. Not only does it give them the chance to compete in one of the most competitive big boat racing classes in the UK, it also allows them to learn from and develop relationships with what we hope will be really useful contacts for them in taking their sailing forward.”
Fellow Director and UKSA Operations Manager Ben Willows added:
“We are extremely grateful to Niklas Zennström and Rán Racing for their investment and support of the Academy. Making Kólga available to us adds a significant value to what we can offer our sailors and we’re really excited about working with such a high calibre team and making the most of the opportunities it will no doubt create for the sailors.”
Niklas Zennström owner of Rán Racing commented:
“We are really looking forward to working with keelboat racing’s fledgling stars and helping to make provision for their further development. Not many opportunities exist bridging the gap between club racing and professional campaigning so this really is an exciting program. We are already having some of the BKA sailors join the Rán team on our Farr 45, and I see this as an excellent opportunity not only to help the next generation of big boat sailors but also to build the Rán team.”
BKA’s partners include B&G, Wild Graphics, Hamble Yacht Services, Harken, Henri Lloyd, North Sails, Ocean Safety, Premium Liferafts, TT Rigging and RORC.
More reports about the British Keelboat Academy