Thursday, 6 November 2008

A Lesson in Umpiring

or - Never Flinch in giving a Penalty -

As told to me by an experienced umpire, about what he learned in younger days....


Once upon a time there was a friendly umpire at a nice event. He was enjoying the sailing and had a great time flying his flags.

Because he was in such a good mood, he showed the green and white flag with extra zest and enthusiasm. But if needed, he blew his whistle also extra loud for a blue or yellow penalty if he thought it was an "extra" deserving penalty.

In Flight five, Match two, the two opponents were not very even. Yellow had clearly been doing this a lot longer than Blue and in the second downwind leg had almost an 80% lead.

Our happy umpire was a good hundred meters away from the windward mark, when he saw the boom of the Blue trailing boat, hit the orange Mark.
~Lets give them a break~ he thought, ~they are so far behind, I will pretend I didn't see it, and not penalize them~

Five seconds later the halyard of the spinnaker on the Yellow boat broke with a loud snap and the spinnaker dropped in the water. The boat all but stopped. The crew immediately went to work to clear up the mess.

Blue sailed on and halved the distance.

Yellow - still a good 40 meters away from the finish - struggled to get the wet spi out from under the bow.

Blue found a little extra wind and came closer and closer.

Yellow still moved agonizingly slow.

Our happy Umpire started to worry a bit and he motored closer.

Blue was only ten meters behind Yellow when they finally cleared the spinnaker out of the water and picked up a little more speed.

In the meantime Blue, flying a beautiful red kite themselves, sailed to leeward of Yellow and created an overlap. Our umpire's hart sank when the Race Committee showed a blue flag when the boats crossed the finish line.

The difference was only one meter, the race officer told our umpire after the Match. With a served penalty, Yellow would have had time to finish first...

Happy no longer, our umpire tried to console himself with a promise:
Never will I not give a penalty out of pity or happiness. Hitting a Mark equals a flag. No exceptions.....

The End.


"My marriage is like a fairy tale"
"Every time I come home, there's that Witch sitting on the couch"


  1. You don't need an umpire to tell you to do a circle when you hit a mark, you do it regardless.

  2. C'mon Anon, look at rule C7.2(b): 'When racing a boat may wait for an umpire's decision before taking a penalty.'

  3. Another lesson he might have learnt is that if there is a significant gap between the boats such that you can't properly watch both, it's better to be near the lead boat than the trailing boat.

    If the lead boat hits a mark or gets mixed up with a boat in another match, a penalty on the lead boat is likely to be important to the outcome of the match.

    Despite the example given here, if the trailing boat hits a mark or gets mixed up with a boat in another match, a penalty (or lack of one) usually won't affect the outcome of the match.


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