I was very lucky getting to hang out with the International Judges and Umpires during this event. They are a very open, welcoming group of people and I really learned a lot, plus having a great time on the water with some of them.
The main message I want to pass on here is that there is a lot of work behind the scenes for a big regatta and the judges/umpires have their fair share of that. There is a lot of coordination with the Race Committee and others and without a lot of work by all the event just would not happen. And, as far as I can tell, the judges and umpires are paid nothing more than their expenses.
These folks seem to be a very close community who know each other well and have served together in many venues. But they were very welcoming to me and Omar, the other jury secretary. Not a bit of snobbery in sight.
I got to sit in on for some of the jury hearings and that was very interesting. There is a certain formality about it, but it was clear to me that the judges were also trying to be as fair as possible within the formal constraints.
The following is a summary of some of the cases and is based on the written summaries available on the website - nothing confidential I heard is included.
- There were several requests for redress from 49ers for broken equipment in the chartered boats, but since the NOR clearly stated that failure of supplied equipment will not be grounds for redress, there was no redress.
- There were several port/starboard incidents; a Rule 19.2 obstruction (starboard tackers) issue where a leeward 49er was manoeuvring very slowly and could not give room to a windward port tacker.
- A starboard tacker 49er whose helmsman was injured after a collision with a port tacker was given redress and was scored points equal to the average of her points in races 1, 2 and 3.
- A boat that gybed at a gate mark was not given room by an outside boat who was disqualified.
- A leeward boat at the start line luffed up but did not give the windward boat room to keep clear and was disqualified.
It was interesting to be with the judges who would often talk through the events unfolding - for example, "Italy is coming up on port and might be getting trouble, France is overlapped now, Finland is luffing up" or "Croatia tacked in the zone but Argentina has not luffed and is fetching the mark". "Great Britain is tacking, has now finished tacking and is now right of way". Their experience really shown through in little things - they were always looking ahead, trying to see situations developing. They would watch telltales, transoms, luffs - many little things that would indicate where the boat was in a manoeuvre or compared to another boat. That is always the hardest part of any judging process (sailing or in a courtroom) - determining the facts.
So, next time you are in a regatta, thank the judges and umpires for their selfless contributions and hard work.