A long day at the office, Bermuda Race 2010

I have been fortunate in my career to report on events from the perspective of the participant. As a watch helmsman, I reported on the 2005 Rolex Transatlantic race. As a journalist, I sailed a leg of the 2005/2006 Volvo Ocean Race, I raced in the Bacardi Cup for Sail magazine and circumnavigated Rhode Island on public transportation for Rhode Island Monthly. But it is rare that I take on one of these challenges for an organizer, on a public relations side.

That’s what I decided to do for the 2010 Newport to Bermuda Race and I am glad I did. I was asked to basically be a beat reporter for the race: hitting the docks and writing daily news stories and features on race preparation, then reporting on the race while sailing down on the 75-footer Titan XV, then filing stories all week long in Bermuda on the finishers.

Royal Bermuda YC Boat Basin

My client was the Bermuda Department of Tourism and the Cruising Club of America. The CCA is the blue water sailing club for those with thousands of miles of ocean passages under their belts. John Rousmaniere, yachting historian and famed author of sailing books including Fastnet Force 10, hired me for the assignment and allowed me to take even the smallest angle, like weighing a boat, and explain it in detail for online publication.

This isn’t the forum to look back on the journey over the last two weeks, that can be read on the Bermuda Race website. But I did learn how to be more efficient about reporting from a racing yacht while serving as an active crewmember – note, write whenever you have a free moment so when the computer is free and you are not making a sail change, you are ready for the 5-10 minutes you have.

After the fact, I have many ideas on how to improve event coverage when you have the ability to gain every vantage point. This would involve rededicating the website to visual media, using text as an enhancement and “further reading” to video reports and coverage. For a sport that lends itself to visual intrigue (plowing down large ocean waves under moonlight) and beauty (gliding through aqua marine water in light air while eating breakfast and watching manta rays swim past), a stronger balance between words and images is needed.

Titan XV at start, Cory Silken Image

The event hired Peter Slack, a producer and videographer who is a veteran of MTV, VH1, the Discovery Channel and Nickelodeon. He brought a fresh, fun perspective to sailing coverage that I hope you will check out. Any feedback to him or me would be greatly appreciated.

Back to several much belated deadlines after 10 days away. I will also be following up with editors over the next few weeks on proposals, writing new proposals and planning out 2011. Maybe another long passage is in my future. Who knows but I know the possibilities for even better coverage are greater than ever.

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