April 2011 - Why I Judge/Umpire

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April 2011 - Why I Judge/Umpire

Just before we begin the Toronto sailing season, I am going to write an article on a slightly different topic. I have often been asked why I serve as a judge and/or umpire.   I have also asked Lynne Beal who is the only International Judge at the club since David Hague and Paul Henderson, to contribute her own answer to the question which I include at the end.   I am going to write about my role as an umpire (on the water for match races). I will leave Lynne to talk about judging (usually fleet racing, whether on the water or on shore afterwards).   Maybe by the end of the article some of you will be inspired to come and join us.

My answer to the question is probably similar to many other volunteers in many other roles: I do it because it gives me a chance to contribute to the sport, and because of what I get out of it.   I have been umpiring since 1990 which was fairly early on in the development of umpired match races. As an umpire I have helped several regattas and match racing programs develop. I have worked with some teams training and taught seminars to umpires and competitors. I hope this has contributed.   I know that I have got a lot out of it.   I have had a chance to work with and talk with competitors who compete at a level that I could never hope to.   Between races, the inside stories from other umpires and competitors are always interesting. I have had a chance to travel from Victoria to Montreal, from Charleston to Chicago and from Newport, Rhode Island to Newport Beach, California. The events sometimes pay my airfare, and always provide accommodation and food. 

The introduction of match racing as an Olympic event for women has produced new opportunities and more focus on the sport. In January 2010 I spent a week at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. There were 24 teams (including a team skippered by RCYC’s Jen Provan) racing in 8 Elliot 6Ms. Unfortunately for the women, boat sharing put them on the water about 1/3 of the time, while umpires were on for the full regatta including some very long days. By the end my umpiring had improved a lot and a week on the water in Miami is an attractive alternative to snow in Toronto.

As an umpire you have to know your rules well and be able and willing to make quick decisions based on them.   We have been developing a few new umpires in the Toronto area recently. Having experience competing in match racing certainly helps speed up the learning curve.   Umpires who succeed at the local level can then get some opportunities for further training and umpiring at the growing number of match racing events in the Great Lakes and North Eastern United States.

Lynne Beal

As for me, I first got involved in judging in 1987. As an active Shark racer I needed to know more about the racing rules to improve my performance. One point in my plan involved learning protest procedures through judging. My goal was met; I did learn more about the racing rules, my racing performance did improve, and I got hooked on judging. I have been an International Judge since 1996. During these years I have judged in 14 countries at world and regional games for congregated sports, world championships and club races. I have been on the water in conditions from dead calm to in hurricane, with the top sailors in the world and with kids in their first Opti. I have judged and assigned penalties to top rated sailors who used propulsion illegally, and heard evidence from Olympic champions in the protest room.   I have made friends within a network of judges and race officials around the world, including the best in the world. I have taught judging to many Canadian and American judges.

Why do I judge, and why should you? Judges ensure the fairness of competition at regattas. The many functions we perform allow us to interact with sailors at all levels of competition, and to play an integral role in the sport. We brief competitors on rules and their interpretations, and have opportunities to sit on appeals committees. We collaborate with race officers and race organizers. We judge right of way and propulsion on the water. More and more events are moving to systems of direct judging where we call penalties on the water, while manoeuvring our small powerboats among the competitors. When we hold hearings we ensure a procedure that hears all voices and applies the rules with an even hand. Even a bad day judging is better than any day at the office. Because I volunteer as a judge, I have so much. If you volunteer as a judge, you will have so much, too.

© Copyright 2011 Lynne Beal and Andrew Alberti
Posted: 4/1/2011 2:07:17 PM by Andrew Alberti

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This page provides links to a set of articles original published in Kwasind magazine. The versions here include animated diagrams. The original articles can be found within the original magazines which are available online back to January 2007. 

Articles before December 2016 are based on the Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-12 or 2013-2016 and have not been updated to reflect the changes that apply as of January 2017 with the publication of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2017-20. A copy of the new rules can be found on sailing.org.
Andrew Alberti has been writing these monthly articles in the Kwasind since early 1997.  They explain the Racing Rules of Sailing. Andrew is a National Judge and National Umpire. He is a member of the Sail Canada Rules and Appeals Committees. The interpretation of the rules contained in the articles is Andrew's and not that of the RCYC or any of the committees he sits on. 

Send your questions to Andrew at kyrules@alberti.ca.


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