From 26-28 March over half of all International Umpires attended the 2004 Conference held in Southampton, Great Britain.
The theme of this year's event, inspired by last year's Judges Conference focusing on Rule 42, was "Consistency Whilst Improving".
Designed to bring together International Umpires from around the world for discussion, information sharing, education, and future development, the Conference was an ideal time to catch up on current best practice, while discussing new ideas and the future development of the sport. Conference Chairman John DOERR commented on the theme of the weekend. "It is important that IUs continue to take up new ideas and techniques in umpiring, yet we need to maintain the highest level of consistency."
"This conference is a perfect opportunity to bring together a huge range and depth of knowledge, to share and pass on that knowledge, to educate on existing and develop future procedures, and to discuss where we need to go in the future."
As well as a series of workgroups and exercises, there were a number of presentations and lectures over the course of the two days and thanks must be extended to International Umpires Sub-committee members, John DOERR (GBR), Jan STAGE (DEN), Henry MENIN (ISV), Piero OCCHETTO (ITA), Nevin BARAN (CRO) and Marianne MIDDELTHON (NOR), and also to IUs Chris ATKINS (GBR) and Kirk BROWN (USA) for their presentations and dedicated work for the Conference.
Bryan WILLIS (GBR), who was Chairman of the Jury and Chief Umpire at the 2002/2003 Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup, and has been appointed as Chairman of the Jury and Chief Umpire at the next America's Cup in 2007 spoke at a dinner held on Saturday evening. He talked of the future of umpiring in the America's Cup building up to 2007. He spoke of new equipment, new technology and procedures on umpire boats, as well as the move to a more spectator-friendly format and arena, and the lead up regattas, which start later in 2004.
Following the culmination of the conference on Sunday evening, all the presentations as well as information, feedback, ideas and supporting papers are being reproduced onto CD and distributed to all IUs for educational purposes as well as MNAs upon request.