Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Groundbreaking Diploma in Sporting Excellence Returns for English Youth Sailors in 2022

24th August 2022
Youth sailors
The Diploma in Sporting Excellence aims to put England’s brightest prospects in keelboats and behind the books Credit: Paul Wyeth/RYA

School students in England starting Year 12 this September who are interested in racing keelboats and want to have a future career in sailing or sports science have the change to apply for the RYA’s Diploma in Sporting Excellence programme for 2022.

The Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DiSE) is a two-year education programme and a unique sporting qualification designed to meet the needs of student-athletes who exhibit the potential to achieve excellence in their sport.

DiSE supports young sailors in the talent system in England to combine sport and education so that they have the skills, knowledge, and competence to pursue sporting excellence alongside developing the skills and qualifications for a post-sailing career.

And it may provide a model for the advancement of youth sailors in other RYA regions, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The programme provides a comprehensive syllabus to support young sailors to gain an additional qualification (worth 64 UCAS points) and achieve their full potential within the RYA sailing/keelboat pathway. The programme aims to increase the accessibility and diversity of the sailing participation base and talent pathway.

Each year the RYA bids for programme places through Sport England and Department for Education. This year we were successful in securing 12 places in an ever-continuing competitive process with all Olympic and non-Olympic sports.

“We are tremendously proud of the impact and difference this programme has made within the youth classes and keelboat sailors,” said Jack Grundy, RYA performance manager and DiSE programme lead.

“This programme has helped sailors’ next steps within the maritime, performance pathway and higher education options. More importantly, it has given them further development in all the small things like nutrition and psychology that help them mature into professional sailors for the future.”

The programme aims to increase the accessibility and diversity of the sailing participation base and talent pathway | Credit: Paul Wyeth/RYAThe programme aims to increase the accessibility and diversity of the sailing participation base and talent pathway | Credit: Paul Wyeth/RYA

Ellie Thomas, a 420 sailor on DiSE, added: “The DiSE programme has been hugely beneficial to my sailing. The training camps have been amazing with some great quality coaching. The theory sessions have helped me to understand what else goes into being successful within sport. The programme has run smoothly due to the great organisation, and it has been great to be a part of it.”

To be eligible for the DiSE programme, a student must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be aged 16 to 18 and starting Year 12 in September 2022, in full-time education (or aged 19 to 24 if they have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan), when they start the programme.
  2. Aspire to progress onto the British Keelboat Academy or other future performance programmes.
  3. Be studying at a state education institute, or if a student attends a fee-paying school, they must be in receipt of one of a 50% scholarship. See the application form for further details.
  4. Ideally have a minimum of five GCSEs at a minimum grade of 4 (or above), including Maths and English.

The programme only only 12 places, and these are being run exclusively on a keelboat programme in line with Sport England’s aims and impact of DiSE. Therefore, the technical and tactical sessions will be on a keelboat with other students who you may not have met before.

The technical and tactical element (sailing) will usually take place over eight weekends, with delivery over 18 months. The theory will take place at camps and remotely. Access to laptops will be required.

The programme will commence in late October or early November and is more than just sailing; successful applicants will be required to complete coursebooks and will have access to 1:1 sessions with a sports psychologist, sports nutritionist, mentor and coach sessions which are a part of the Diploma. You will also be required to record all sailing and training hours outside of the programme.

Click HERE for the application form, which requires parental/guardian consent.

Applications must be submitted by 11.59pm on Sunday 4 September. If you have any issues with submitting the form, email [email protected] You will be notified by Friday 9 September if your application has been successful. Team

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About the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Northern Ireland 

  • The RYA is the national body for dinghy, yacht and motor cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative for inland waterways cruising.
  • The RYA is recognised by Government, the media and opinion formers as the representative body and voice for the activities that it represents. It continually fights for the rights and freedoms of its 112,000 personal members.
  • The RYA has more than 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes, which represent some 350,000 boaters throughout the UK. It is estimated that 4 million people in the UK take part in boating activity annually.
  • The RYA also sets and maintains recognised standards for training for both leisure and commercial boating through a network of more than 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres across 58 countries. More than 250,000 people per year complete RYA training courses.
  • The RYA is responsible for one of the UK’s most successful Olympic medal-winning sports. Our coaching and development schemes actively support 800 of our country’s top sailors, from talented juniors to Olympic and World champions.
  • The RYA is committed to promoting all forms of boating and making them accessible to everyone. For more information please visit
  • The Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland (RYA NI) acts for the RYA in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Chairman of RYA NI is invited to join the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Policy Review Committee.
  • You can find the RYA Northern Ireland at Sketrick House, GE8, Jubilee Road, Newtownards, BT23 4YH.
  • RYA NI is a company limited by guarantee – Registration number NI 51945
  • Contact RYA NI: Tel: 02891 827154 email: [email protected]



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