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How to write event previews

by Magnus Smith 3 Apr 2016 02:27 PDT 3 April 2016
Me when I've been asked to write a race report or event preview © Magnus Smith

We are noticing more and more people sending 'previews' in to YachtsandYachting.com and Sail-World.com in advance of their club's event. This used to happen only for national championships and other massive events, but now we are publishing lots of previews for smaller club-level events.

It is a helpful (and free) way to encourage greater participation and make more people aware of your club/class, but we have noticed some sailors are struggling with the task; writing previews isn't easy! Two sentences and a random photo would just look shoddy and reflect badly on your club/class. So you have to make an effort to get a reasonable result, say 150 to 250 words, and this guide should assist anyone who is floundering.

Rather than sending us the Notice Of Race or a poster, we typically have previews written as a couple of paragraphs advertising the event in general terms, not just a bullet point list.

We believe that providing full information is often the key to convincing people there is no hurdle to stop them turning up. Not empty sales talk, of course, but genuine information. Plus a bit of chat about how well things went last year, or introducing the club to attract those who haven't been before.

Keep the crucial info near the top, and the blurb towards the end. If anyone stops reading, then at least they'll have covered the important bits. Write too little and you'll create the impression that the event isn't very important (or that the organisers aren't bothered).

Points you may wish to cover

  • Dates: start (and end) dates, and make it clear about days that only have practice races, or lay days
  • Times: time gates open, time of briefing, time of first start, how long it takes to sail out to the race area
  • Can you give any idea of last race start/end time, prizegiving time, so people know if they'll be still driving home at midnight?
  • Venue: give the full name of the club, not the race area (could apply to several clubs in Weymouth, for example) but do describe the water, and link to the club website for directions
  • Mention who the sponsor is (the series may have a sponsor even if your individual event doesn't)
  • Contact: who to email/phone with other questions, or to match-make spare helms and crews
  • Fees: list costs for the different options available (and can people just attend for 1 day of a weekend event?)
  • Food: provided as part of the entry fee, or available to buy? Hot or cold? Any need to pre-order? Bacon sandwiches are a must, surely...
  • Race format: how many, are they back-to-back, is there time to eat lunch?
  • What options are available for partying late and staying overnight?
  • Is it possible to leave a boat at the club the weekend before? the night before?
  • How many trophies, for what placings/categories? give brief history of a trophy!
  • Link to the 'results so far' if a series, so people can see who the current leaders are, going into the event
  • How many came last year and what weather was like and who won then
  • What top names are able to come, and who has said they can't make it (might be a golden opportunity if the hot shots are elsewhere), who has a new boat/crew
  • Talk about the series, if your event counts towards one

You are not obliged to use all of the above, but the list will help you when trying to expand a meagre three-sentence document.

Photographs

There may be relevant pictures in our gallery from past years; just tell us the links to one or two.

Send in your own photos but please be sure that:

  • The files are JPG format, and at least 800px wide
  • The photographer has given you permission to display on yachtsandyachting.com
  • 'Attach' them to the email so the files stay separate (don't embed them within the text of the email)

We avoid images that have text within them if we possibly can. You can link to a poster hosted on another website, but we prefer to display a landscape-orientation photo and keep the date/time/etc in the text of the news article below it.

Are you finished?

Please spell-check and also see our general submission guidelines which can be (almost) summarised as: avoid PDF format, and use the email only. Please be aware that we may hold your information back for a week before publishing it (unlike race reports, where we get them online within a day or two). Therefore, submit your preview around a month in advance (for open meetings) and maybe six months in advance (for championships).

Next year, make sure your event appears in our calendar at soon as the club is booked, as details will be displayed underneath all relevant race reports for a long period, providing additional publicity. See the calendar sign up or calendar help pages for more information.

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