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

  Yes
  No
Unknown

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


Settings
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 
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. 

Competitions 
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. 

Session 
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.

Examples

Please go to https://sailevent.net/e/M7Tryx5X by 1100 to let us know if you are sailing today

Tap https://sailevent.net/e/M7Tryx5X 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.

 


Thursday, 2 July 2020

New Feature - Additional Users

It’s a tough job being a Sailing Secretary. Long hours for little reward other than seeing the happy smiling faces of the sailors as they heave their boats up the beach.

If you are a Sailing Sec then SailEvent can make your life easier by letting sailors take on a little more responsibility. 

And now SailEvent gives you the chance to delegate some of your work to trusted colleagues by giving them access to the Club App.

We’ve just added a new Additional Users page, opened from the Club App menu via >Admin >Additional Users. There you can add people to a list. Once on the list they can log in in the usual way using their email address. And once logged in they can use the Club App in exactly the same way as the primary club login.

Each user in the list has a name and an email address. The address is used for logging in and the name is simply for identification. When you add someone to the list SailEvent sends them a welcoming email with instructions on how to proceed.

Once in the app a user can give him or herself a password to shorten the login process and confirm deletes.

Unlike a club’s primary email address, additional user addresses do not have to be unique within SailEvent so potentially one person can access multiple accounts.

What’s more you as Sailing Secretary can now have two logins – one for the office and one for home – so you can get on with the job wherever you are!

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Now you see it, now you don’t

I just want to tell you about a handy new setting for competitions that we introduced recently.

It’s called Visible and it controls where in SailEvent people can see each competition. You’ll find it at the bottom of the Competition tab on the >Competitions page.

Visible has three possible settings:

All The competition can be seen throughout. That includes by competitors when they eTally, in the Race Team app, in the public location Viewer and of course in the main Club app. This is the initial setting for a new competition.

Not public viewer The competition can be seen everywhere listed above except in the public Viewer. This might be an appropriate setting for, say, club racing.

Club App only The competition is visible only in the Club app. You might want to use this while you are setting up a new competition or trying something out.

Why no Not Race Team? Because we couldn’t think of a use for it! Plus you can control who sees what in the Race Team app per session with PINs.

And that’s all there is to it. If you change Visible don’t forget to Save it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

SailEvent is three weeks old

The first few weeks after launching a new service on the web are always an interesting time. SailEvent's introduction has been no exception!

No matter how much you test and check in the lab, once out in the wild there are all manner of unforeseeable pitfalls awaiting young and innocent software. SailEvent has been buffeted by web browsers and operating systems but, fingers crossed, those travails are all behind us now. If you’ve been caught out by any of them, please accept our apologies and thank you for sticking with it.

On a more constructive note, we have received much useful feedback from early adopters. Several ideas have been filed away for future development; others have been implemented already. Some changes are so minor you may not even notice them but more significant are

  • Minimal registration procedure for sailors. All you have to do now is submit your email address, receive an email in response then three clicks and you’re in. You can do more if you want but you don’t have to.
  • A statement on online entry forms that sailors need to agree. Clubs write their own statements, for instance “If all else fails I promise to read the Sailing Instructions”. Sailors must tick the box to confirm before their entry is accepted.

And to accommodate additional stuff now and in the future, SailEvent has a new menu system. Hope you like it.



Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Pricing

Today clubs can use SailEvent entirely for free while they get going again after the lockdown. But what happens after some form of normality returns? In this post we share our thoughts on SailEvent pricing.

SailEvent is a service of Sailing Club Software and Sailing Club Software is a commercial organisation. There are costs to operating software-as-a-service so to be viable SailEvent must cover those costs and provide a modest return on our investment. That’s why we ultimately plan to migrate SailEvent club accounts to a freemium model. Sailor accounts will continue to be free.

Freemium is a well-established approach offering software in a series of tiers. The first tier is free and provides basic functionality with limited capacity – think of it as an ongoing starter pack. Subsequent tiers offer more features and greater capacity in return for corresponding subscription levels.

So that’s our target. When we get there, how the tiers look and what the subs will be are as yet unknown. With a new service in uncertain times it would be unwise of us to make commitments now. What we can promise is that the service will always be affordable otherwise nobody would be able to afford it!

So please keep on using SailEvent free of charge for now and we’ll give you plenty of warning of the move to freemium.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Where is everyone? SailEvent and GPS Tracking

Traditionally human vision has been the only way to know where sailors are when on the water. But now we can improve on that with GPS tracking.

Tracking is ubiquitous. You can track your pets and your parents, your car and your bike and your luggage. You can watch your loved one coming home from work and your delivery on its way from the warehouse. Major sailing events also use tracking and SailEvent now makes this tech available to every club and sailor as its eLocate feature.

What SailEvent does not attempt to do is present second-by-second updates or show tracks taken. Instead eLocate records competitors' most recently reported GPS position.  These are plotted on a map of your sailing area in the club and race team apps. Race officers not only get an overview of where the fleet is but can also check the location of individual competitors.

The latter is really useful when tracking down anyone hasn’t eTallied ashore. For instance this person has simply forgotten and is on his way home!


But it would be a different story if he was shown in the middle of the bay or lake, or on the far shore. Further investigation would be advisable.

Competitor locations are also available anonymously on a public viewer so spectators can follow the action.

How does this all happen?

Clubs don’t have to do anything! It's built in to the SailEvent service and the strategy is to let sailors opt in to use it if they want to. They provide their own tracking device as either a mobile phone for free or by investing in a dedicated tracker. Device options and configuration are on the sailor fact sheet page.
 

“The members won’t like it”

It’s new, it’s unexpected, it’s a bit geekish, it requires effort so there will be resistance from some. But that doesn’t mean that technophiles can’t give it a go.
 
GPS tracking is not going to go away; it can’t be uninvented. That’s why SailEvent offers sailors the opportunity to make this small addition to their safety portfolio if they choose.

 
In this post we’ve shown that GPS tracking in the context of a sailing event is now available to those who want to take advantage of it. This is a new and developing subject and we look forward to working with the sailing community to maximise the effectiveness of this useful technology.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Signing out and in by phone

The SailEvent eTally feature lets sailors sign out and in on their phones. But what is it that they are signing out and in of?

SailEvent defines sailing sessions. Typically a session is a sailing day but equally it could be, say, a morning session or an evening session. A session is what you make it and what people sign for.

Each session has a name, a date and a start and end time. It also has one or more competitions assigned to it. Competitions have competitors so at the beginning of each session SailEvent can list all the competitors who are potentially sailing in that session. We call them participants. eTally lets participants report that they are actually sailing. For the avoidance of ambiguity we call that signing afloat.

SailEvent collates all the eTally signed afloats and presents them in real time as a definitive list in the club and race team apps.

Let’s have a look at this from a sailor’s perspective. Bill Barnacle's club has a Leisure Sailing competition and Bill has entered. Bill has also registered with SailEvent as a sailor and opted in to receiving prompts – simple reminders – by email. His club creates a sailing session, Day 1, on 5th July starting at 0900 and ending at 1500.

At 0900 on 5th July Bill gets an email on his phone saying “click this link if you are sailing today”. Bill clicks the link and sees


Bill taps yes. This is instantly recorded by SailEvent and shown as a tick against Bill's name in the list of today’s participants. (If Bill has a look at the forecast and changes his mind he can go back and tap no.)

It's a similar story after sailing. Bill can tap the same link to say he has finished sailing. If he doesn’t he is prompted as 1500, the session end time, approaches. He sees 


That’s the simplest version of signing ashore; it can also be configured to ask for a Finished/DNC/DNF declaration or even for finish times.

Again Bill is marked off as being ashore and the race team can answer that crucial question – who has gone afloat but isn’t ashore.

In this post we’ve seen how sailors can use their phones to report their afloat/ashore status and avoid the pinch point of signing sheets. And just as importantly we’ve also seen how that status is available to race teams in real time. Next we’ll look at monitoring sailors while on the water.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Sailors - please register

This post is for all you sailors to encourage you to register yourself with SailEvent. The process is relatively painless, takes only a few minutes and it’s free.

Why do we want you to register? To collect your email addresses. Not to sell on, not to bombard you with ads (our Privacy Policy confirms that unequivocally) but to connect you to events and competitions run by SailEvent-registered clubs.

What’s in it for sailors?

When you are registered with SailEvent and have entered a competition run by SailEvent-registered club you can use

  •     eTally Think of it as signing afloat and ashore on your phone. Quick and effortless. It can even deliver the day’s course to your phone too.
  •     eLocate GPS location monitoring while you are on the water. Race management and spectators alike can monitor your progress.

We believe that eTally and eLocate make sailing that little bit safer while giving race management extra information to help them provide better racing.

How to register

Either go direct to https://sailevent.net/app/sailor/register or there are links on the SailEvent website.

Then it’s the familiar process of you submit your email address, SailEvent sends you an email with a link in it. You click the link, accept the Terms of Use (after reading them carefully of course) and you are into the Registration Wizard.

The wizard takes you through the process. The steps are:

  • Check your email address once more.
  • If you want, set a password for logging in later. It’s optional.
  • Try your personalised eTally link. It’s a good idea to pin it to your phone’s screen. How to
  • Opt in to receiving reminders to eTally. They are normally emailed but can be texted if the event organisers go for that and you provide your mobile number.
  • Register and test a GPS tracker.  Needed if you want to use eLocate, otherwise skip – you can always come back later.
  • Finally a URL if you want to sync your sailing dates to your phone calendar.
All done. To get back to your account to check or update it, it’s https://sailevent.net/app/sailor/login or via the SailEvent website.

Once registered you will hear no more from SailEvent until you are entered in one of those SailEvent-registered competitions. If that doesn’t happen it probably means your club isn’t itself registered. You may want to encourage it to do so!


Tuesday, 19 May 2020

A Booking System

A core component of SailEvent is what we call a competition. "Competition" is a general term for anything like an open meeting, a club fleet, a regatta, a Nationals or any of the multiplicity of names we have for groups of people gathered together for the purpose of sailing.

The term competition, and those examples, imply competitiveness but there is no reason why the concept cannot be repurposed to describe non-competitive groups such as leisure sailors. You could have a “competition” for everyone who leisure sails throughout the year. Or you could have single day “competitions”, for instance one for each Sunday.

Competitions have lists of competitors, another general term. In the initial version of SailEvent competitors were added to their competition either by typing them in or by uploading a spreadsheet. Now we’ve added an online entry form so that members can add themselves to the list. It’s a brand new feature, so new that it isn’t even mentioned on the website, but we wanted to get it out to you because we know many clubs are looking for an online booking system.

So how does this work in practice. Let’s assume that your club decides to open up for leisure sailing on the four Sundays in June but, in order to ensure social distancing, there needs to be a limit of 50 boats on each day. Here are the steps:

1.   In SailEvent set up four competitions. You can call them whatever you like, perhaps Leisure Sailing 1 – 4.

2.  For each competition set the maximum number of entries to 50. You will probably also want to set an opening and closing date for entries and possibly provide additional information.

3.  The four competitions are automatically published on your club’s SailEvent online entry page. The link to that page is something like https://sailevent.net/enter/mysc

4.  You make that link available to members by emailing it in an invitation to book and/or putting it on your club website.

5.  Your members go to the online entry page and fill in a simple form for the day or days they want. They can also see a list of who has already booked.

The list of members for each day can be viewed by authorised persons in the SailEvent club app and in the race team app so you know exactly who to expect. Bookings can be amended, added and deleted.

In this post we’ve seen how easy it is to implement a simple booking system with SailEvent. Next we’ll look at why your members should register with SailEvent, the good things that are available to them once they have done so, and how this helps you manage their time on the water.


Monday, 18 May 2020

Restarting sailing – how SailEvent can help

Before lockdown “sailing” for many clubs was synonymous with “racing”. And so SailEvent's mission is to bring phone tech to dinghy racing.

Now that our sport is restarting the emphasis is on leisure sailing. What better therapy can there be than the simple pleasures of just messing about in boats! So does SailEvent have a role to play in non-competitive sailing? The answer is emphatically Yes.

In its Club Guidance on Restarting Boating Activity the RYA makes these suggestions:

1. “Create a system so members can book time at the club or on the water.”
2. Introduce or update sign out / sign in procedures.”
3. “Use RYA SafeTrx, mobile phones, UHF or VHF radios.”

Here’s how SailEvent can help the safety-conscious club implement these ideas:

1. Online booking. SailEvent online entry forms let your members book slots to go sailing so you know who to expect on site and can control their numbers.

2. Sign out/sign in. Using the SailEvent eTally app sailors can report that they are actually going afloat and, when they return, that they are safely ashore.

3. Location monitoring. The RYA guidance suggests that sailors take their phones afloat. Those who do can use them as GPS trackers so their location can be monitored. That’s the SailEvent eLocate feature – similar to RYA Safetrx but integrated with bookings and attendance.

All the information gathered by SailEvent is collated and presented to authorised persons. You have a single, definitive, auditable record of who is supposed to be sailing, who is actually sailing and where they are. That means clubs are equipped to implement standardised safety procedures for leisure sailing.

SailEvent is a cloud-based system that runs on phones, tablets and computers so there is no requirement for investment in special equipment. For privacy the location data for each sailing session is automatically deleted within 24 hours.

In this post we’ve talked in general terms about how SailEvent can help clubs implement aspects of the RYA's recommendations. In subsequent posts we are going to look in more detail at online booking, attendance recording and location monitoring.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

The Back Story

SailEvent is brought to you by Sailing Club Software - those nice people who provide DutyMan. It has its origins in our involvement with Chichester Harbour Race Week, a popular 5-day dinghy regatta based at Hayling Island Sailing Club. A database in the cloud and online entry got the near 500 competitors under control. On-the-water finishing sheets ensured rapid results publication. But recording who was afloat and who was safely ashore stubbornly remained a slow, cumbersome and labour-intensive paper-based system.

So we invented eTally, a phone-friendly web app that lets sailors announce that they are sailing today with just a couple of taps. And, after sailing, a couple more taps confirm that they are ashore.

Having given the technology a thorough testing at Race Week 2019 we merged it with a GPS tracking project we have been working on and an adaptable database. The result is SailEvent – an easy-to-follow solution for clubs to keep track of two key questions: who is sailing and where are they. There are more gizmos but that is essentially it. And importantly it’s all achieved without clubs needing to buy and maintain special kit.

We were all ready to launch this spring then something intervened! But now we are getting back on the water and the time is right. What’s more, SailEvent has a role in helping your members maintain distancing; we’ll explain how in our next post.

It’s new, it’s innovative, it’s a bit techy but recent events have demonstrated that, if needs must, people adapt quickly to change and soon appreciate the benefits of electronic solutions.

SailEvent is also experimental. It won’t be perfect from day one so we need your feedback to help us improve the service. Please take a look and register at https://sailevent.net; contact us at support@sailevent.net.