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 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 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

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; contact us at