Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Protest or Not

As I get more and more into the world of judging, I wonder about the role of the Rules/protests/hearings etc. at the Club level.

In our Club we have no history at all of protests/hearing. There is occasionally a bit of high-volume discussion on the water and then a rehash of the event over beer after, usually with a consensus about who broke the rule.

Is that the best course? Some say we should have more real protests as a way of learning and gaining experience with the whole process.  Others are happy to just let things continue as they have been.

I have mixed feelings. I certainly don’t want our Club to become confrontational and tied up in acrimonious disputes.  On the other hand, I do think it would be a very good learning experience for our members to be more attentive to the Rules and understand them better.   Due to my interest in the rules and the judging experience, members come to me for advice and I am glad to give it, but that is not the same as a more formal hearing – which doesn’t have to be a really adversarial proceeding, but which would let people see how difficult it may be to determine what happened.

What does your Club do? What is the best approach?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Judges Seminar

Last week I attended an ISAF International Judges Seminar at the Polski Związek Żeglarski (Polish Yachting Association) in Gdansk Poland.  It was a really great experience.

First, there was an excellent instructor - Josje Hofland from the Netherlands.  I had met her at the ISAF World Cup in Abu Dhabi and knew she was a very patient judge with in-depth knowledge.  She did a great job teaching, especially since she had to do it alone since the other IJ scheduled to come had a nasty fall on his boat the day before and couldn't come.  I particularly appreciated the emphasis on the "soft" skills necessary beyond a good knowledge of the rules. Also, like all good judges, she was never hesitant to admit that some issues do not have a crystal clear answer or that she might be wrong.

There were 19 students from all over the world and it was really invigorating to meet them and to see their enthusiasm not only for sailing but also for judging. There were some really geeky, but enjoyable moments when we were trying to solve a problem  all delving into the RRS and Casebook, drawing diagrams and stretching our brains. I know that this sort of activity may not be every sailor's dream, but for those of us interested in such things it was really fun.

And the accomodations were interesting - we were lodged 2 to a room in rooms with a bunk bed and single bed - like being back in summer camp. 

But, once again as I discover the world of race officials, I understand better how much work behind the scenes is involved in a successful regatta.  And the fact that most of this work is unpaid, volunteer work makes it even more valuable.  

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