Use of Judges

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by oldfart, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. oldfart

    oldfart Member

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    I'm just back from the US Laser Masters in Annapolis. Won't report on the regatta except to say that SSA did a great job organizing and conducting the event, even though the wind failed to show!! The PRO did an amazing job sailing 4 races Saturday in almost no wind.

    I would like to get some discussion going on Judges at Masters events. There were 8 judges at various times on the water with us -- about 80 competitors. The question is: Do we really need them, or can we police ourselves? Local regattas are sailed without judges, so why not regional and national? Several of the calls they made were really questionable according to competitors who were flagged, as well as competitors in the neighborhood of the poor sap who was whistled. (Full disclosure -- I was flagged for "rocking" downwind). I got a sense from discussions around the keg and while waiting for wind on Sunday, that there are many who see little or no value in having judges on the course. There is also belief that judges need to have experience actually sailing our little boats, if we're going to have them on the course. I'm not sure what the implications are for event sanctioning by USSA and/or ISAF, but it seems that the class should have some say in how it wants an event conducted. No judges would also eliminate one "to do" for regatta organizers!

    Maybe when JDE gets back from Brazil, he can put a survey on the Masters website to see how members feel about the issue of judges.

    What say ye?
     
  2. Sunray

    Sunray New Member

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    Hey,

    I have not yet raced (although I am in the age class for masters), so I really would not know the pros and cons re: judges on the course, but I would like a link to that Masters website you mentioned. I am about to buy my first Laser and really get into it, so any and all info is good..

    thanks,
    Ray
     
  3. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    I agree with old fart on on thing - SSA did a great job at running the US Masters.

    But to get the debate going, let me take the opposite view from him about on-the-water judges. (Full disclosure - I was one of the 70 or so sailors who was NOT flagged by the judges at Annapolis.)

    1. Can illegal kinetics be a problem at Masters Regattas? You bet. I remember one light air day at a Fishing Bay masters event a few years back - flat water, no waves - and when I looked back at the fleet following me on the run I saw 50 or so boats sailing still and steady, and one idiot rocking back and forth continually. The aforementioned idiot was one of the masters who usually places near the top of the fleet and he seemed to think it was OK to cheat just because he had had a bad first beat and was buried in the fleet.

    2. Can we police ourselves? I doubt it. For some reason most sailors are very reluctant to file rule 42 protests. I think we should do it when we see blatant rule violations but it doesn't happen very often.

    3. Is it relevant that most of the sailors protested at the masters didn't think they were doing anything wrong? Maybe not.Think about it......

    If (a) you admit that you knew you were violating rule 42 it means you were deliberately cheating.

    If (b) you didn't know that you were breaking the rule it means that unconsciously you were using a technique that, in the opinion of the judges, was outside the boundaries of legal. Maybe you didn't really know the rule and its interpretations all that well or maybe you've developed some bad sailing habits without realising it.

    I prefer the second explanation.

    4. Does the presence of judges make everyone be more careful about not violating rule 42? Sure. Well, it did for me and I suspect also for many others.

    5. Did the judges help educate us about current rule 42 interpretations? Yes they did. I heard a number of conversations (after sailing) where judges were answering questions and explaining to competitors exactly how they were applying the rule. I think many of us found these chats helpful.

    6. Is it relevant that the judges didn't sail Lasers? I don't think so. The rule and its interpretations are from ISAF and apply to all classes. There's not a special version of rule 42 for Laser sailors. If we go to Masters Worlds or major open events we are going to come across judges like the ones at Annapolis applying the rule in the same way. May as well get used to it.
    Would it be a good think of more Laser sailors volunteered to work as judges? Sure. But personally I'd rather be sailing.

    So for all of the above reasons I say let there be judges at major events.
     
  4. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    I say let there be judges.

    However, we can police ourselves without having to file the 42 at the table. I do it and it's been effective followed up with a post race discussion.

    All I do is scream, "stop rocking" or simply "pumping" at the violator and they settle right down.
     
  5. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    The North American Laser Masters website is at http://www.nalasermasters.org/
     
  6. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Judging Laser sailboat races is an extremely difficult task which a few international judges have learned to do very well and very consistently. These dedicated individuals have worked together for many years and at the international level, Laser sailing has recently been consistently and fairly monitored.
    I would love to see the North American fleet support the efforts which could continue to develop a team ( or many teams) of North Amaerican judges.
    My concern has been and remains that we will allow inexperienced well intentioned people to make on the water judge / jury / executioner calls which are not absolutely accurate.
    One comment above described a situation where a sailor's mast was moving more than the other sailors.The sailor may have been rocking illegally.
    The sailor may also have been leaning his boat to weather to bear away and to leeward to head up. The actions which would make one sailor go faster by properly using the wind and water to propel his boat may make his mast seem to wildly swing side to side. Steering with the sails to heat up and sail faster can be quite legal. Learning to discriminate between terrific boat handling and cheating is extremely time consuming and difficult. False accusations can ruin more than just one person's fun in one race. Improper accusations can and often do impact real people's lives. Let's proceed carefully. Very carefuly indeed.
     
  7. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    Good points from Fred. It's not always easy for sailors or judges to make the right call on what's illegal and what's not.

    So what can we do as a class and as individuals to develop a team of North American judges that are expert at judging Lasers and have the respect of all sailors?
     
  8. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    IMHO, some video available for download anytime (or playing before and during a major regatta) showing what is/isn't legal (actual race footage or demo purposes) would go along way to educating sailors and judges. The written word is nice, but it's still open to interpratation and what I see is that we don't all have the same interpratation.

    Again, IMHO for Masters events in North America, we shouldn't need judges, we are all supposed to be the mature, responsible adults. We should be able to sail within the boundries of the rules and for those who may cross over the lines, the rest of us ought to have the knowledge to know when someone has crossed the line and the balls to call them on it (instead of sitting silently by waiting for someone else to do it or simply not caring enough to get involved...)
     
  9. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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  10. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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  11. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    The video:
    I have seen it.
    I have met people who became instant "experts" because they had seen the video.

    Those experts, especially when they are riding a boat with a hoisted Judge flag, scare the hell out of me.

    Can you imagine having a few guys sit around watching videos of the rules of baseball and then turning them loose to umpire a real ball game?
    ( Yes. That may be appropriate or necessary for the dads trying to umpire early years of Little League but the kids DO suffer for it.)

    I am no expert rules guy. I am not a super coordinated kinetic master.

    I DID sit with the international Judges at dinner virtually every night for almost a month a couple years ago. During the first dozen days, I observed and video taped the very same races they were judging. During the rest of the time I raced and then sat with them at dinner to ask more questions. I asked and received answers to their questions for a month and I still don't really feel competent to sit on a boat and make calls about who is cheating.

    People who will never learn as much as I have forgotton are willing. Some of them are eager to "go fix racing by throwing out the cheaters."

    I would love to have competent judges. I believe the game could occasionally use those judges for help it desperatly needs.

    Currently, I do not believe there are very many competent judges available in North America.

    Remember...No one has ever flagged me when I didn"t agree with the penalty.

    I HAVE SEEN judges as they have made improper calls. I have personally explained ( during a race) exactly how a competitor was effectively propelling his boat by cheating and had the judges choose to ignore it. They watched with me as I described the cheating. Worse still, those same judges made calls on other competitors whose cheating was not even propelling the boat.

    Sure my story is anecdotal. On the other hand, I KNOW the same thing happens all over the place. We have lots of really nice people who willingly contribute lots of hours to race management who do not have enough expertise to judge kinetics. They often are pressed into service anyway. PHOOEY!!!

    I have a real big problem with people who desire to be in charge of something and who once put in charge cannot properly serve.

    Generally, those folks do care and they are trying and they THINK they are doing something good. Those situations frustrate me but the frustration is directed to the system, not the people.

    I have an even bigger problem with the lemmings who often line up and let the leaders take them over the cliff.

    Sailors who want judges to call the game because they are too socially chicken to make a few calls themselves really annoy me.
    The next section of this post which was about sports and sportsmanlike conduct and the jerks who just don't believe sportsmanship matters has been edited away.

    If we want to have competent judging in North America, we need to begin a ten year program to train a few.
    Incompetent jugding is worse than no judging
     
  12. oldfart

    oldfart Member

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    Governail has hit the nail on the head!!!

    I also have seen the video and sat with judges for some discussion at the NA's in Newport.

    What is easy to spot on the water is leech flicking caused by body pumping or sheet pumping. Competitors can also very easily spot this and let the offending person know to cool it or do circles. I think competitors also know when someone is rocking downwind to propel the boat illegally. Perhaps, easier than judges can in many conditions. So why don't we become our own judges and enforce rule 42 ourselves? We enforce the other Part 2 rules, why the exception for 42?

    I would rather run the risk of someone getting away with "cheating" than have judges making questionable calls that can screw up a regatta for a competitor.

    My original post on this issue was aimed at Masters events. We are not very likely to be Olympians (Scheidt excluded), and for the most part, behave fairly well. So why have the judges?
     
  13. Newt Wattis

    Newt Wattis New Member

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    I also attended the SSA US Masters Regatta recently. there seemed to be too many judge boats riding around waking unnecessary wake etc inalready confused conditions. In one instance a judge Boat went by me within 15 feet causing a big wake for me to contend with, to flag another competitor maybe 50 yards ahead going upwind. I had not noticed the competitor doing anything wrong and the competitor was very surprised also. My point is the Judges and their boat operators need to respect the race cource and be aware of how they are affecting the other competitors. Laser sailors have to help police themselves by calling out to our competitors when we think they are violating any rule and then protest if necessary.
    A reply once from a young competitor when told to stop his excessive jibing was "protest me" and continued to violate rule 42.
    Money should not be spent on travel or other expenses for Judges to come to a Master's regatta. Entry fees are already higher than I can understand for what we get nowadays.
     
  14. snipeguy

    snipeguy New Member

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    I agree with the thinking that we should enforce Rule 42 on the water ourselves.
     
  15. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    it is really hard to totally "enforce" rules as a competitor. Self enforcement is usually downright easy for any of the rules....provided the sailor actually knows the rules.
    Self enforcement is impossible if you don't even know the rules.

    Just as we cannot spend all our time watching everybody else to see they really don't touch buoys, we really cannot be watching others and "enforcing" kinetics rules.

    My inclination is toward using good sailors ( until we have trained judges) to watch the fleet and make advisory calls.
    1. On the water they might blow a whistle to say "We saw that." Perhaps it is unnecessary to say who they saw doing what. (Consider the over early flag and sound and how many times extra guys go back. If they really KNEW they were not over early they would not go back. So I say, "You were too damn close to the line for your own ability to judge your location and you should go back.) If a sailor believes he might be guilty, he should do the designated penalty.
    2. The good sailors would post a notice or evenhave a meeting on shore telling the competitors what was seen and why each whistle was blkown. The sailors could then discuss the accuracy of the calls and the sailors could decide whether their infractions were sufficient for a penalty. A guy who didn't know he was cheating might volunytarily take a penalty appropriate to the offense. Thye don't even have to be stanbdard DSQ. The fleet ought to be able to give fair penalties suitable to the offense and impact on the game. "OK we all think you probably gained one boat by your cheating, nobody else was evern close. We will give you 2 points to put you behind the guy you passed and another point for not knowing the rules."
    3. The fleet could continue to make adjustments to the rules to make Laser racing more appropriate to the competitors who are sailing the game.
     
  16. snipeguy

    snipeguy New Member

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    I like this; a kind of ad hoc protest comittee. I hate protests and have often seen guys doing stuff that was obviously illegal and have not bothered because it was only a matter of one or two places that they gained. A DSQ would have have seemed a harsh penalty, not to mention the incredible hassle of going through the whole protest thing. The idea of the fleet collectively assessing a penalty of a point or two is a good one. It should be doable quickly and with little fuss. The whole process should take half an hour, tops.
     
  17. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Member

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    Man - what a great idea. We will all sit around after sailing and assess penalties on the guys that were cheating.
    Sculling illegally on the start line? Let's throw him off the dock.
    Rocking on the run? Make him buy a beer for everyone in the fleet.
    Doing roll tacks that are way too good? Lend that new sail to the rookie for the rest of the season.
    Body pumping? Make her run naked through the parking lot.

    The possibilities are endless. Who needs judges?
     
  18. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    All right, boys, settle down!

    Merrily
     
  19. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Great thread!!!

    Just back from the Laser Master's Worlds in Fortaleza where, even though the wind was really never less than 13-14 knots, and mostly 18-20, there were several yellow flags thrown. In big wind and waves people don't remember things like: you can't pump if you are already planing, you can't pump to initiate planing/surfing when going up the back of a wave, the sculling rules have changed, you can't body pump (and flick the leach) repeatedly so you can get around the weather mark when you are just low on the layline, etc. This at the World Championship level! Unfortunately, judging directly affected the results in the Master's fleet where Gonzalo Campero picked up his second yellow flag while leading Kurt Miller near the end of the final race with the result that Kurt finished third overall and Gonzalo fourth.

    In a failed attempt to be brief, I think:
    1) Education is necessary, the rules/interpretations have changed (changing the game a great deal I think) and what people did/learned even as recently 4 years ago (or read in, for example, Ben Ainslie's book) is now illegal (e.g sculling at the start even to stay head to wind has now gone away). It appears that this education has to happen during a regatta for it to really sink in as the average compeitor doesn't seem to take the time to read and understand the interpretations (see rule 42 interpretations at ISAF here)

    2) I've only been at one regatta where a competitor filed a rule 42 protest in 10 years of travelling to events so have little faith that "we can police ourselves" in this particular regard (for reasons that have been elucidated in other posts here),

    3) When I have tried to tell competitors that what they are doing violates rule 42 they look at me like I'm some out of touch old man (even by Masters!),

    4) ISAF, spearheaded by a dedicated group of life long Laser sailors (and led by Bill Ohara from Ireland), have worked extremely hard over the last few years to create a solid set of rule 42 interpretations, produce training manuals for judges and put out a DVD (available from ISAF) to educate sailors on what judges are calling,

    5) These interpretations have done a great deal to standardize the calls judges do make. Still, just like the baseball strike zone, no two judges will make exactly they same call on things "near the edge", which is why judges normally work in pairs and must both see the same infringement before making a call,

    6) If a judge flags you then you are entitled to an explanation of why they did so after the race (or, better, at the end of the day) and here is where you can learn what you "did wrong" from somebody who was busy watching you instead of trying to sail their own race,

    7) At the events I have attended the judges are frequently willing to have pre or post race competitors meetings to discuss rule 42. They would much rather not have to throw the flag and let the results be decided by good sailing amongst the competitors.

    In general, I favor having judges on the water for the Major events (NA's, US and Canadian Nationals, MWE, MWE, CORK, Miami, etc.). The hope is that the calls made there will educate sailors and this will then trickle back down to the lower level events, eventually (I hope) leveling the playing field across the region. And I do consider my self to be the "glass is half full" kind of person.

    Now, to get back onto the real thread, should we have these at Master's events too? I think that is really up to the Master's sailors... But, I could offer a relevant anecdote here: a North American competitor at a Master's Worlds a couple of years back came in at the end of a day having received his second yellow flag. He was shaking his head with the "I just don't see how I could have done anyting wrong" story line. He then proceeded to describe exactly how he was sailing on the reach where he got flagged and it was just text book rocking and pumping - in his own words! I think he did learn from that experience since, to my knowledge, he did realize what he was doing wrong, modified his sailing style and has not been flagged since. So... maybe having the judges there could be useful?

    Tracy

    PS Also... the "two turns" penalty only applies if you break a rule in Part 2 of the ISAF RRS and rule 42 is in part 4. So, if a competitor yells "protest" at you for rule 42 and you know you are wrong your only recourse is to drop out . A two turns penalty exonerates you ONLY if appendix P applies and a JUDGE throws a yellow flag at you.
     
  20. VBClaserJ

    VBClaserJ New Member

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    I im in favor for Judges, i dont believe it is fair however for a judge to simply follow the winning boats around waiting to flag someone for the one time in all the races when they make the slightest of violations.

    In my personal story i was flagged in the final race of the semi's (smythe) on the final upwind leg with a fairly large lead, this resulting in me finishing 2nd in that race, and 3rd overall in the three day semi final, 1 point behind the competiter who finished 1st in that race and second overall allowing him to move on in the smythe finals.

    Proplems-Judges should always be ussailing judges, not people who know the fleets history or reputations, (there was one ussailing judge at semi's and the judge who flagged me was not a certified judge, actually a local sailor!) Warnings should be the first signal not 720, we should be able to find the line which is appropiate for that regatta.

    Still like having judges, not when they split from the fleet to see why you are going faster and making up something crazy like my butt sliding foward over that wave. They dont know if im adjusting a control, falling from my hiking strap, or just scooting up in the boat.....oh well
     

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