Monday, 12 May 2008

Support your local Judge

Today on the Scuttleblog a post was published by Ernie Bain, Jr., Senior Judge and Umpire: Certification process

I realize I'm not an US-Sailing judge nor umpire. If that disqualifies me from commenting, please ignore the rest of this post.

I agree with the need to maintain the skill to Judge or Umpire.
Rules knowledge is an important part of that. But not that's not all. You need also to improve abilities like dealing with people in the room or on the water. Professionalism goes further than tests.

However you want to achieve that first part is in the organization, be it trough a points system or annual testing. For the second part you need a support system. Feedback on your teamwork, the opportunity to talk about what has happened and learn from mistakes, without prejudice.

It should be part of the chief or chairman to give that (or delegate to other experienced Judges and Umpires). But also we should expect to hear from our fellow Judges and Umpires every time we work together. Not to criticize, not to put down, but to improve and think about what we are doing.

It should be perfectly normal to talk a few minutes before getting back to shore, or before we rush into the next protest-hearing. Or find someone in a quit moment and tell him how he or she can improve dealing with that particular difficult party in the protest-room. Or how to put a young sailor at ease before starting with those demanding questions.

Ernie's idea is a good one, I'm all for improving rules-knowledge, but not without an equal part attention to 'people-skills'.


  1. Support your local Judge!

    Interesting concept. Yes both the local clubs, regional organization and national organization needs to support the local judges. I have found that this does occur and have been reward greatly both from the experience and the great individuals I have met. I have made great friends and continue to lean on in my quest of becoming a better judge. This is where I think the organization falls a little apart. Like most group with limited budget it is spent on the sailors not the officials. I have been luckly to maybe in the right spot at the right time but I have had some IJ who had the foresight to say "Hey this guy has some skills and hasthe right thinking process". Others have come along and said your right, what can we do? Answer his questions, help him develop his skill set. This is where I think we are weak at. I have that this is like going back to school. There is a process and language for sailing and one needs to understand it.
    Do not get me wrong, as I have said, I am enjoying it, and I have commented on that this is sometimes harder than my normal job.
    Oh by the way, why am I doing this. I got a engineering degree paid by sailing (teaching) and got hired because of sailing as the interviewer was interested in my sailing. So it is giving back to the sport to what the sport gave back to me.

    Robert Stewart P.Eng

  2. I totally support the idea of;

    Mentoring Judges and Judge's in Training. If every Judge took one "under his or her wing", we could double the pool of excellant judges in a year.

    Provide more local and regional training, and certainly not always that which accompanies the certification process and test.

    At our recent "roundtable" held in Newport, RI this spring, Judges in attendance were begging for more training oppornunities. Many said they would like more work, and were seeing fewer protests, and hearing fewer hearings.

    US Sailing has done a great job improving particularly it's race management training but also it's Judges program. The Judges program is moving target as the program improves rule book to rule book. That said, the Judges certification program is less "training" and more validation of skills and rules knowledge, with an overview of approved procedure, all required for approval of their certified judges, and issuance of US Sailing insurance coverage. I would assume the ISAF International Judge course is similar, in that you need to be fully knowlegable and conversent on the rules and skills as a judge to "pass".

    We as Judges need to organize more oppornunities for "students of the rules" and those who judge to socially interact and work towards providing better judging for the competetors and our sport.

    Ron Hopkins

    PS: By popular demand, watch for details on a full day, "Judges Roundtable", Fall 2008.


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