Mighty Matson wins national berth.

PUBLISHED: 13:50 29 December 2009 | UPDATED: 12:30 10 June 2010

EIGHTEEN year old Sam Matson of Exe Sailing Club has recently won a place at the British Keelboat Academy (BKA), writes Mike Rice.

EIGHTEEN year old Sam Matson of Exe Sailing Club has recently won a place at the British Keelboat Academy (BKA), writes Mike Rice.

The BKA is a new partnership between the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and the UK Sailing Academy (UKSA).

The BKA has been designed to produce a constant stream of credible and talented young keelboat sailors aged between 18 and 24.

It does this by developing sailor's confidence, self-belief and team skills through the intense challenge of high performance yacht racing.

The programme prepares sailors for keelboat racing at the highest level, training up and coming sailors to compete in events including the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.

This year, Sam partnered his father Neil in the Fastnet race.

He is also a keen dinghy sailor, racing his Laser in club events and at this year's Laser national championships.

Selection for the BKA was held over a weekend at the UKSA base on the Isle of Wight. Sam described the experience, saying:

"It was a tough weekend. The coaches kept us on our toes by not allowing us to see the whole itinerary for the two days! It involved a mixture of both physical and mental challenges. Saturday morning provided us time to prove our sailing ability to the head coaches and former members of the British Keelboat Squad, followed by six miles of running and performing challenges along the way at night ,in heavy rain and strong winds. There was a 6 o'clock wake up call on Sunday to perform further physical training, tests and interviews. I was competing against people aged 18-24 yrs of age from various backgrounds, from ISAF youth medalists to transatlantic sailors. It was a fantastic weekend and I'm hoping it is the beginning of many things to come in terms of setting up a professional sailing career."

Sam is currently working at a ski resort in the French alps, and will start the squad training as soon as he returns from there in April

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