I’m trying to think of ways to get more people to volunteer as race judges. It looks like we’ll need several more people to help with Fizz Cup 2009 and the other planned regattas that will follow.
I’m impressed that over a year ago there were numerous discussions of racing rules involving many sailors. It was “a hot topic.” These days however, fewer sailors spend time focusing on rules issues, and my guess is most sailors are sort of happy with that. The nuances of racing rules might seem pretty dry and boring to some sailors, akin to interpreting the Talmud. (Private note to Armchair: I’ll explain the Talmudic Race Rules later…)
I’m not being critical here. The sailing community continues to expand in SL, and I think we all agree there is plenty of room for a wide diversity of races that incorporate any variation of the Rules that the race director du jour thinks is appropriate. Some big regattas might insist on “serious rules,” while fun races for novice sailors might choose to have no Rules at all.
Right now however, we have a small problem. There are very few sailors who are interested or willing to serve as Judges.
Considering all of the enthusiasm and ability within the sailing community, this should be something we could easily fix together. I guess I’m suggesting we find ways to make the Racing Rules and Judging more “glamorous” so we can build a racing infrastructure for the future. Over the past several days I’ve been discussing this issue with sailors from most of the clubs to get their ideas and help with the issue. So far, most sailors agree with three pretty simple ideas; there may well be many more:
1. We should provide more opportunities to talk about the practical issues of Judging and how sailors apply the Rules in different SL races. Those interested in helping out could get their questions answered and see where they might best fit in. For the upcoming Fizz Cup races, for example, NYC and a few other clubs are scheduling two Judges for each race. Judge 1 should be someone with past experience judging SL races; Judge 2 could be someone familiar with all the issues and interested in how to handle protests in SL… but a person who has never done it before. That might hopefully provide an opportunity to match an experienced judge with someone who wants to help out, but feels more comfortable when there is a judging partner around who’s been through prior SL regattas.
2. Judging is a thankless job. When a race goes well, the judges usually stay quietly in the background and seem barely involved in the regatta at all. You really only hear about judges when there’s a major protest and one of the parties refuses to accept a judge’s decision. It’s understandable that some sailors refuse to judge because they feel nothing good can come from the experience and is a significant chance if they volunteer their services some sailors they like will end up hating them forever over a particular rules call.