How to write race reports

Some essential guidelines for submitting race reports to

Wednesday January 1st 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
If you are a race organiser, PR company or the poor soul who drew the short straw and has to write the race report for your class or club, then here are some tips to help you conjure up the perfect race report for us.

In general

- unlike magazines we are not worried about length, but equally too much detail and the report will probably be cut down to size by our ruthless sub-editors. Somewhere between comprehensive and concise is the order of the day.
- read the report through thoroughly and get someone else to check it, before sending it in
- send the report through promptly. We are an instanteous medium (God help us) and therefore need material at the latest 24 hours after the race has finished - ideally sooner.
- reports, photos and results should be emailled through together to

What the report should include:

- the full name of the event.
- where it happened, at what club (if appropriate), when it started and finished
- the number of races/format of the races
- what class or classes took part
- what the wind conditions were (strength and angle, increasing/decreasing, gusty/stable) and anything else notable about the weather
- any remarkable feats - dramatic capsizes, collisions, wipe-outs, impressive overtakings, sea monsters. (Acid test - what are people talking about in the bar afterwards?)
- the reason why the winner won
- a quote from the winner about why they won
- any ambiguity on the form. Did anyone do particularly badly or well and if so why?
- any comments to make about the equipment being used. New boat/sails, etc and if it made a difference.
- any good yarns.
- event sponsor information at the bottom. While we are pro-sponsor at thedailysail, blatant pandering to a sponsor within the report will be cut. We are happy if the sponsor's name is included a couple of times in the text and equally if the sponsor wants a paragraph about them at the end of the article we will keep it in.
- similarly if an individual sailor or boas is sponsored then we will mention them if it is discreet (ie the boat name is that of the sponsor) but won't if the format is 'Ben Ainslie (generously sponsored by Henri Lloyd)' for example.
- any protests and their outcome. You can include a bit of comment about the rights and wrongs, but this is usually dangerous ground.
- make sure names are spelled correctly and the report is factually accurate
- what the next event is

What the report should not include:

- the food fight, excess drink fest, whatever your event's hoodlums are into, that happened on the penultimate night or final night of the event - unless it is genuinely funny and will be appreciated by those who weren't there.
- first names. Remember you are writing this not just for the people in your class/club/event to read. On thedailysail we have all manner of readers from pros to rank amateurs, old and young and from all nations around our great planet - and thus many may not know who 'Geoff' is.
- 'in jokes' are also to be avoided unless they are dressed in such a way that the rest of the world will also find them side-splittingly funny too.
- thanking everyone. This is not the OSCARs. If you want to thank the club/race officer then write them a note directly.
- don't put endless results into the end of the article text. We almost always publish full results in a separate table.


- on thedailysail we like to publish comprehensive results and are able to do so because of our unique content management system.
- over the years we have become expert at ripping off results from other people's websites. So please let us know where we can find results
- alternatively send results through as an Excel spreadsheet.
- under NO circumstances send anything through to us in .pdf format


- We like photos very very much on thedailysail, especially ones filled with action and drama.
- digital images should be sent in attached to an email with the race report
- images should be in JPEG format (they normally are unless you have an ultra-expensive camera)
- unlike most websites we like to use photos BIG so as a rule they should be no less than 600 pixels across (regardless of whether they are upright or landscape format) at 72dpi. On most compact digital cameras adjusting the settings to medium resolution will produce about the right result. Generally the minimum file size for each individual picture should be around the 100k mark. As a rule - the bigger the better.
- always try and get a photo of the winning boat and crew

Tips for taking good marine photos

- get in close. A photo where there is a tiny boat in the distance is a bad photo. Either use a telephoto lens or better still talk your way onto a RIB or chase boat. Don't shoot until you can see the whites of their eyes (okay, a slight exaggeration).
- avoid camera shake by holding you camera tightly. Camera shake and blurry out of focus results are more likely to happen the further you are zoomed in. One way to minimise this is to shoot in shutter priority mode with the shutter speed set to the maximum setting. If your camera doesn't have shutter priority mode then shooting in aperture priority with the camera set to the largest aperture available will produce the same results.
- anticipate. Digital cameras, unless they are the more expensive SLR type, have an infuriating delay between you pressing the button and it getting around to taking the picture. If you see a potential good pic coming up, get ready early and make sure the autofocus on your camera is looking roughly the right distance away by half pressing the shutter button.
- shoot as many photos as you can. The more you shoot the more likely you are to come up with some good ones. This is no sin now we live in the digital world and there are no costs associated with film and processing.
- don't upset the sailors. If you are following the racing in a RIB then stay downwind of them and don't create a wash that will affect anyone you wish to remain friends with.
- try to capture the drama - capsizes, collisions, heinous gear failure, etc.
- once you have mastered these then you can start to get creative with the use of slow shutter speeds to get motion blur, reflections in the water on windless days, and if you speak with an Italian accent and chain smoke, people will believe you are Carlo Borlenghi.

That's about it. Good luck.

James Boyd

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