A Day With The Umpires At The Delta Lloyd Regatta
The Umpires Look On
2011 Delta Lloyd Regatta
Medemblik, the Netherlands
At the 2011 Delta Lloyd Regatta, the fifth of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas, ISAF Website and Media Co-ordinator Daniel Smith was given a unique opportunity to spend the day with the Women's Match Racing Umpire team on and off the water.
During a blustery opening day, that was packed full of thrills and spills, I didn't get a chance to go out on the water. But after finding some waterproofs I hit the water with the ISAF International Umpires appointed to the Delta Lloyd Regatta on a much calmer second day in Medemblik, the Netherlands.
The team of ten were welcoming, friendly and took me under their wing. I was on a rib with Chief Umpire Sally Burnett (GBR) at 09:40 local time but the wind was too light therefore the Committee Boat took the decision to send the sailors ashore.
After a short wait we were back out on the water and the racing commenced.
There were five umpire boats on the water with two umpires assigned to each boat. Before the team take to the course they are assigned the races they will umpire.
Slightly before the pre-start the duo decide between themselves who will have which boat. One would take the yellow flag and the other blue and then position themselves on the appropriate side of the umpire's rib. During the pre-start and throughout the race the umpires speak to each other as if they were on the boat explaining each manoeuvre and relating everything to Appendix C of the Racing Rules of Sailing.
They made sure that each move was within the rules and acted appropriately, efficiently and immediately when called upon.
The level of detail and expertise that the umpires displayed was highly impressive thanks to some of the seminars and clinics that are run throughout the year around the world.
My past experience of being on an umpire's boat came within rowing but the level of detail and attention shown by the ISAF International Umpires was fantastic and a pleasure to witness.
During my time on the water I saw Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) complete her 100% record in Group A to advance to the Gold Group, saw a tight race between Australian's Katie Spithill and Olivia Price and got a vantage point that showed the competitive nature of match racing close up.
After watching five flights I hitched a ride back to shore before heading to the de-brief which takes place 45 minutes after the last boat has come in. This was interesting as the sailors could query the decisions the umpires made during the matches. The umpires used a board with magnetic boats to demonstrate the manoeuvre and then explain their decision.
I also managed to tweet and take some images which can be found on the ISAF Connect to Sailing Facebook page here.