I was privileged to be asked to be the fleet judge at the above event held at the WPNSA. Here are some of my comments on the fleet and the event.
As expected, WPNSA ran a good event. The weather was good with the wind strength throughout the event hovering at the O flag threshold.
Launching and starting were on time and the races ran very close to the target times. All this is a complement the PRO and his race team who we know are very experienced at the highest level.
As expected, the fleet showed fairly good rules observance although there is an element of “sorting things out between us as mates” rather than taking the penalty or protesting. This is no more than other fleets but can become an issue if not addressed.
Most sailors in the event were fully aware of the O flag rule and prohibited actions. I don’t know what the fleet behaviour is like when there is not a judge about. I would like to feel that the behaviour is the same.
I had some valuable discussions with some sailors after the racing which were very constructive for me and them.
There is always an element of matching expectations of competitors, judges and coaches. I welcome fleet and class feedback to help stoke the right approach.
My major concern with the fleet at this level was that of boat identification.
There is a lot of reliance on bow numbers such that there appears to be a relaxed attitude to sail numbers. Certainly at Championship and qualifier events I would expect the sail numbers to be correct with few exceptions. This is not a problem for other fleets so I don’t think it should be for 420s.
There are circumstances where the judge can only i/d boats by sail numbers. At the start for instance.
Maybe consider adopting the RYA advisory, arbitration and exoneration penalty system in the RYA racing rules guidance book. This may help to get more protests or generate discussions about rules observance. It also gives opportunities for sailors to take a penalty after the race when the incident has been explored.
This could be appropriate for some events.
Perhaps look at allowing judges to warn sailors in the the “amber light” area of R42 on the water at some events. Maybe use a green flag.
If the fleet, parents, sailors or coaches, want to discuss rules issues with me, I am happy to participate where I can. I try to treat every question as a learning exercise for me as well as for the other parties.
At some events, it may be worthwhile staging a protest anyway just to familiarise competitors with procedures.
I found the event enjoyable as a volunteer and received some pleasant comments from the competitors. I felt I was able to give some feedback to competitors – I hope this is in order with what the class is trying to achieve.
I certainly learnt a lot as well and would be happy to help the class in the future if asked.