Friday, 28 August 2020

Visitor Attendance Recording

This post talks about repurposing SailEvent to keep track of all visitors to a club and not just those who are actually sailing. 

To support NHS Test & Trace sailing clubs must maintain a record of all those visiting their premises including club members, their families and friends. (See references below.) That sounds like a daunting administrative task yet by using SailEvent and applying a bit of thought and ingenuity, you can easily implement contactless, digital, self-service attendance recording.

No two clubs are the same so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution but here are some ideas to get you started.

The principle

The concept of a competition is central to SailEvent. A competition has some facts describing it and a list of competitors. Typically competitors take part in a series, an open meeting, a regatta but they can equally sign up for leisure sailing or simply to visit the club.

So the trick is to set up a competition called, say, Visitors and compile a list of potential visitors.

Compiling the list

This depends very much on the nature of your club. A small club with mainly local members may want to simply put all its members on the list. Alternatively you can publish an entry form and ask members to sign up only if they plan to visit at some unspecified time in the future.

Attendance recording

The final setting up step is say when people can visit the club. Some clubs may want to be open at all times; others may limit visiting to just certain days and times.

Either way the answer is SailEvent sessions which have dates and start and end times. (btw sessions can now be as long as you like.) Thanks to the clone function it is really easy to create, say, a month or more of like sessions.

To prompt or not to prompt

Prompts are brief emails or texts to remind people to record their attendance. If for instance your club is open only at weekends and is always well-attended then asking everyone if they will be on-site seems reasonable. But if your club is open every day yet often used by only a few then multiple prompts may be seen as intrusive.

You can configure the number, including zero, of prompts SailEvent sends so why not start with a best guess and fine tune from there.

Good to go

At this point it’s a good idea to let your members know what is expected of them and to enlist their cooperation. In our experience people take to SailEvent really well especially if they understand that they are supporting NHS Test & Trace.

SailEvent takes over

Either by prompting or self-motivation your members will be asked a question on their phones that looks like this

 Their answer is date and time stamped and securely recorded in the SailEvent database ready to be passed to NHS Test & Trace if asked.

Do I need sailing competitions too?

Maybe not if you don’t need to know who is sailing as opposed to who is just visiting. But yes if you want contactless signing sheets and the race team app.

Is it one hundred percent?

Unlikely unless you have an exceptionally well-disciplined membership! We are dealing with humans here and it seems they are not always capable of following simple written instructions. But it should be pretty good – we have reports of 95% compliance – and NHS Test & Trace is not an exact science anyway. What we want is for everyone to do the best they can.

We have talked in this post about how SailEvent can be used for free to implement easy-to-use, contactless, digital self-service attendance recording. That's one quick way that clubs and their members can help NHS Test & Trace and combat the pandemic. 


Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Supporting NHS Test & Trace

During the coronavirus pandemic the UK’s government guidance is that organisations should keep records of “staff, customers and visitors” in order to support NHS Test and Trace. The RYA’s Sailing & racing with participants from different households confirms that this guidance applies to sailing clubs. The guidance recommends that, wherever possible, this information should be recorded digitally.

From the outset SailEvent has helped clubs comply contactlessly and digitally with these rules by

  • Providing an online competition entry form that members can use to register an interest in sailing in an event or series.
  • Through its eTally app, let members confirm that they are actually sailing on any given day.

Now SailEvent goes one step further by letting members record changes to helm or crew that apply for just one sailing session.

Suppose Annie has entered to sail the Saturday Series in her RS200 with her regular crew Jim. Jim can’t make it one weekend so she recruits Ben to stand in. At eTally time Annie changes the name of her crew from Jim to Ben just for that one Saturday.

All these contact details are time-stamped and securely stored in the SailEvent database where they can be accessed by owning clubs. Clubs should keep this information for 21 days either by leaving it in SailEvent or by downloading to a local computer. If necessary NHS Test and Trace will ask for these records and, with SailEvent, clubs can easily produce them.

PS As part of this development competitors can now also provide a temporarily alternate sail number to be used during the current session. It’s the alternate that is shown in the Race Team app so race officers aren’t faced with an unknown sail number.


Friday, 14 August 2020

New look check boxes

The afloat and ashore check box columns in participant lists are about to get a new look. Previously they were a bit clunky and the clunkiness was enhanced by browsers recently turning check boxes blue instead of the traditional grey.

But the main driver has been to show that each status has three settings rather than just the two that check boxes permit. Those three are Yes, No and Unknown. So for example at the beginning of a sailing day you probably don’t know whether an individual competitor will be sailing or not – status Unknown. Subsequently they eTally and their status becomes Yes or No.

So now what you see in the afloat and ashore columns is


The colour if the borders indicate eTallied or marked in the club or race team app respectively.

The symbols cycle round as you tap them:

 tap  tap  tap 

Tap top right of a participant list for pop-up help covering all this. 

There is more detail in club app Help in the Working with Participant Lists topic.

We plan to implement these changes later today. Hope you like them.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Something new and quarts in pint pots

This was going to be a brief post about a handy update but it has grown!

The handy update is, by popular demand, a new column in the race team app's list of participants. It comes immediately after the afloat/ashore columns and shows the competitor’s declared finish status. That can be fin, dnc or dnf. fin is short for I started and finished the race and, to the best if my knowledge, sailed the course correctly. Of course the column is only there if you have chosen Ask for finish status for the competition and at least one competitor has declared.

On smaller screens, like phones, this declaration column is visible only when your device is in landscape mode. And that led on to thinking about how SailEvent shows a lot of data in a limited amount of space and how best to input that data.

SailEvent uses a number of techniques to get the quart of competitor information into the pint pot of a typical phone in portrait mode. These include omitting some columns, word wrap and variable column widths. For instance if the participant list can potentially show fleet, class/sail number and competitor name columns the last one is hidden in portrait mode. Rotate to landscape to see everything.

Even with these techniques space can be tight because a column always takes the width of its longest content. However there are things you can do to improve matters. You can abbr(eviate) and AVOID CAPITALS. For instance INTERNATIONAL 14 takes up a lot of screen real estate whereas Int14 conveys the same information in much less room.

Then there are competitor names. JOSEPHINE WILLIAMSON may be big and bold but Jo Williamson is barely half the width and much more readable.

Tip: take a look at your competitor list and see where you can trim and tidy.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

eTally Prompts - Part 3

Previous posts have talked about the why, what, how and when of eTally prompts. Here we look at how this translates into reality from a sailor’s point of view.

Imagine it’s a typical sailing day with an 11am start and all done by 3pm. We'll assume the prompts ask something like Are you sailing today? and Have you finished sailing? for afloat and ashore respectively.

Here are timelines for four likely scenarios: 

The organised one
09:00   Receives afloat prompt 1 and responds Yes
14:30   Receives ashore prompt 1 and responds Yes
The relaxed one
09:00   Receives afloat prompt 1 but does not respond
10:00   Receives afloat prompt 2 and responds Yes
14:30   Receives ashore prompt 1 but does not respond
14:50   Receives ashore prompt 2 and responds Yes
The one who’s not going
09:00   Receives afloat prompt 1, responds No and so receives no further prompts

The distracted one
09:00   Receives afloat prompt 1 but does not respond
10:00   Receives afloat prompt 2 but does not respond
14:30   Receives ashore prompt 1 because SailEvent does not know whether this person has sailed or not. Receipt of ashore 2 depends on any response to ashore 1

These are the settings behind the above scenarios.

The sailor is opted in to eTally.

eTally is enabled for the competition being sailed and an initial afloat status has not been set.

For this session:
Start time 09:00
Afloat cutoff time 11:00
Afloat 2 at 60 minutes before cutoff = 10:00
Ashore cutoff time 15:00
Ashore 1 at 30 minutes before cutoff = 14:30
Ashore 2 at 10 minutes before cutoff = 14:50

Friday, 17 July 2020

eTally Prompts - Part 2

In the previous post we looked at the why, what and how of eTally prompts; here we look at when they are sent. 

The decision as to when to send a prompt is governed by the factors listed below but the guiding principle is when SailEvent doesn’t know what’s going on it asks.
Sailors can opt in and out of receiving prompts on the eTally tab of their SailEvent account. If opted out SailEvent never sends them prompts. 

Most often SailEvent starts a sailing day not knowing whether or not each individual sailor is sailing so it asks by sending prompts. However a club can tell SailEvent, at competition level, to assume that all are sailing or none are sailing. That way SailEvent doesn’t prompt sailors to eTally afloat; they must remember to use the eTally app themselves. 

Prompts are normally sent according to the following schedule:
Prompt When sent
afloat 1 session start time
afloat 2 a number of minutes (offset) before the afloat cutoff time minutes
ashore 1 a number of minutes (offset) before the ashore cutoff time
ashore 2 a number of minutes (offset) before the ashore cutoff time

Afloat 1 can be skipped as described above. 

Afloat 2, Ashore 1 and Ashore 2 can be skipped by setting their respective offsets to zero. 

Clubs control the time settings and so too can race officers using the Race Team app. 

That’s the strategy behind when prompts are sent. In the final post of this series we look at the sailor experience of receiving them.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

eTally Prompts - Part 1

This post talks about the why, what and how of eTally prompts. We’ll consider when in Part 2.

Why prompt?

People are an absent-minded bunch. Or perhaps it’s just that there is so much going on in our lives that it is easy to overlook minor details. Minor details like confirming that yes, I am sailing today, and yes, I am ashore and did finish the race.

That’s why eTally prompts are such a good idea – they remind people on their phones to nip over to their eTally app and give it a quick tap.

What prompts look like

Prompts are brief messages to competitors reminding them to eTally. Up to two prompts can be sent for both eTallying afloat and ashore.

Each prompt consists of club-supplied text, a personalised link to the competitor’s eTally app and optionally a time limit.


Please go to by 1100 to let us know if you are sailing today

Tap before 1500 to say you are ashore

There’s a lot of flexibility in how you compose prompts. Clubs, you can read all about it in your club app's >Help.

How prompts are sent

Prompts can be sent either by email or by SMS text.

SMS texts are used when the following two conditions both apply:

  •          A club has an SMS account and has told SailEvent about it.
  •          A sailor has provided a mobile phone number to receive prompts. Sailors, you do this in your Sailor account on the eTally tab.

Email is used when SMS texts cannot be used and email is always available.

SMS texts can appear more immediate and urgent to the recipient however there is a small financial cost to the sending club for each one.

Email requires email software and an account on phones but with 'push' services, such as Gmail, and notifications the user experience is not dissimilar to SMS texts.

For technical reasons email delivery tends to be more reliable than SMS texts. And email is free or, to be precise, the small cost is borne by SailEvent.


That’s the why, what and the how if eTally prompts. In the next post we’ll look at when they are sent.