The British Keelboat Academy is a joint keelboat racing initiative between the RYA and UKSA. Sailors from the academy are all geared up for a busy racing season which begins this coming weekend, from 6th to 8th April, at the RORC Easter Challenge.
The BKA sailors aged between 18-24 who were selected in autumn 2011, and have undergone an intense winter training programme focused on preparing both their boats and crews for successful 2012 campaigns.
This season, BKA sailors will be campaigning the J109 Yeoman of Wight aiming for selection to one of the British teams for the Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup, competing in the Solent Farr 45 series on board Kólga and taking part in the J80 World Championships to be held in Dartmouth.
'It feels like it has been a long, tough winter but it has been a fantastic opportunity to get the boats prepared and the crew ready for what is going to be a challenging season ahead!' stated Alex Gardner from Christchurch, Isle of Wight.
The winter activities included input into working effectively as a team within their crews and also specialist technical training. The team development training covered areas such as defining roles, establishing expectations, leadership, prioritisation and time management, and was delivered by Ruari Chisholm (High Performance Development) and a session at an Army training establishment.
As well as being crucial to the success of this season’s campaigns, these skills should also allow the sailors to play an important part in future top level British campaigns as well as being valuable transferable skills. The technical training sessions covered areas including rigging, racing rules, sail repair, meteorology and diesel engine maintenance, all of which will be important skills for the season ahead.
More recently, the squad sailors have been back out on the water getting some valuable training in before the racing season starts. The crew of the Farr 45 got the opportunity to train alongside the professional team on board Niklas Zennström’s Rán recently, as James French, 20, a BKA squad member from the Isle of Wight explains:
'Last weekend we were joined by Rán's Farr 45 for some intense training; having another identical boat was really beneficial, especially having the opportunity to work with one of the world's top race teams. They were kind enough to swap a couple of crew with us, which was a great experience for everybody. The crew on Kólga learnt from professional sailors Tim Powell and Freddie Shanks whilst BKA squad member Neil Payne was dropped into the Rán team - no pressure at all!'
The RORC Easter Challenge will be the first race of the competitive season for many of the BKA sailors. With the event allowing coaching to take place during racing, it is a great opportunity for the BKA sailors to continue to train for the season ahead. This will be followed by the Warsash Spring Championships over the weekends of 21-22 and 28-29 April.
Luke McCarthy, British Keelboat Academy Head Coach, added: 'I'm really looking forward to seeing all the BKA sailors out on the water over Easter. They have all put in a huge amount of work over the winter getting ready for the season ahead, so this should mean they are in a great position to put in competitive performances. As a training regatta, with coaching allowed during the racing, RORC's Easter Challenge is a perfect first event of the season for the BKA campaigns, as it allows us to start racing but also continue to develop the sailors' skills for the season ahead.'
For more information about the British Keelboat Academy and how you can help with fundraising, please visit the
British Keelboat Academy website.
by Matt Carter
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4:26 PM Wed 4 Apr 2012GMT
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