One of the roles of the Umpires Committee is to be proactive in the development of the US umpire corps for team and match racing. To that end this white paper has been designed help clarify the process and to encourage all those interested to join our umpire team. Some of the questions deal with the nuts and bolts of how this committee operates and may be of little interest to someone new to the umpire discipline. The concept behind this piece is to make transparent the process of becoming an umpire. To umpire match and team races as a certified official is no easy task. But you will find that the satisfaction of contributing to the growth of our sport and serving competitors makes the work well worth the effort. We hope that this document will help you better understand the process. Come join us!
Q1. So, I’ve completed all the items listed on the application form. What happens now?
A1. The Umpire Committee (UC) will review the application to insure that all the required items have been completed. Then, the UC will contact your references and others who may be able to offer an opinion on your application. Discussing your application with a large group of people who have worked with you provides the best and most complete picture of your work as an umpire.
Q2. What kinds of things does the UC look at when they contact references and others?
A2. Merely having all the boxes on the application checked off does not, in and of itself, qualify one as an umpire. The UC will look into the following areas:
1. Does the candidate work well with others?
2. Can the candidate subordinate personal wishes for the good of the team?
3. Does the candidate pull his weight in the group?
4. Does the candidate participate in discussions and meetings?
5. Can the candidate work well under pressure?
6. Has the candidate developed and improved skills over time?
7. Does the candidate demonstrate judicial temperament?
8. Can the candidate process information at appropriate umpire speed?
9. Does the candidate lose the plot/freeze up during an active and aggressive race?
10. Can the candidate apply the correct rule to the incident?
11. Can the candidate handle the pressures of the debrief? Can the candidate explain what the umpire team saw, the rules and calls that apply, and lead the discussion that follows?
12. Does the candidate admit mistakes or deficiencies and take steps to remedy errors or weaknesses?
13. Can the candidate operate a wide variety of umpire boats?
Other areas the UC will use as a standard would include:
A. Could the candidate work with someone of a similar skill level in the semi-finals of an appropriate significant event?
B. Would a CHUMP ( Chief Umpire ) have confidence in placing the candidate in any position of an appropriate significant event?
C. Could the candidate work with an inexperienced umpire in the early rounds of an appropriate significant event?
D. Based on the candidate’s previous work, is there a probability the candidate would have a problem that would reflect poorly on US SAILING or the United States?
Q3. What is an appropriate significant event in the context of answer 2?
A3. This would be a two-day event with at least 6 teams for match racing or 8 teams for team racing, and a full umpire compliment. For national umpire candidates, it would be an event like the US Match Race Championship, the group semi-finals for the USMRC, the US Team Race Championship ( for the Hinman trophy ), the Pacific Coast Team Race, Team Race Midwinters, the Baker Cup, the Ficker Cup, or the Governor’s Cup. For international umpire candidates, it would be an event like the Congressional Cup or other Open Grade 1 event. The list is not inclusive, so if you have any questions on a specific event, contact a member of the UC.
Q4. If I meet all of the requirements listed on the website, doesn’t that necessarily qualify me as an umpire?
A4. The Umpire Committee would say no. Meeting the basic requirements is the starting point for review of your application.
Q5. But isn’t that kind of subjective?
A5. In reality, the review of your application is rather objective. It gets down to “can the candidate do the job with consistency as part of an umpire team?” Contacting a number of people who have worked with the candidate offers the best way to accurately assess the skill set of the candidate.
Q6. Do I need an evaluation in both a match race and a team race?
A6. No. You may select either match race, team race, or any combination of the two. Three acceptable evaluations are required.
Q7. If I never intend to umpire a match race, why do I have to? Same question for a team race.
A7. An umpire is an umpire. Skills that are important in one discipline will help an umpire be a better umpire in the other discipline. Positioning in a match race is the key. You can’t make the call if you are not in the right spot. Team race umpires benefit from the almost fanatical drive of match race umpires to be in the perfect position. Team race umpires, having learned positioning skills will be better able to put the boat in the correct position for umpiring team races. Match race umpires benefit from the speed and multiple changing situations that team race umpires encounter in every match. This will help the match race umpire deal with multiple incident calls.
Q8. What is a “principal event” in the context of the experience needed to become a certified umpire?
A8. A principal event for the purpose of becoming a US SAILING Umpire would meet the following guidelines:
1. A two-day umpired event (team racing under D2.2-2.5 would meet this requirement under the 2013-2016 RRS).
2. Have at least 6 umpires in attendance with 3 being certified by the MNA or ISAF
3. A match race with 6 or more entries
4. A team race with 8 or more entries
The following are examples of regattas meeting the definition of Principal Event. This is not an all inclusive list.
Congressional Cup Governor's Cup
Knickerbocker Cup USMRC Finals
Osprey Cup USMRC Group Finals may meet the requirement
US Team Race Champs – Hinman USTRA Mid-Winters
ISSA Team Race Champs – Baker USTRA PCCs
ICSA Team Race Champs Charles River Open
Also included as Principal Events would be International events of ISAF Grade 3 or higher for match racing and important team race events such as the Wilson, BUSA Champs (British University), and BSDRA Champs (British Schools).
Q9. I have had a problem passing the test, or the on the water evaluation, or my application has not been approved even though I have tried a number of times. How many times may I give this a try?
A9. With the pressure put on umpires to make the correct call, it is a fact of life that not all who may wish to become an umpire have the full complement of skills necessary to serve our customers at the level required. If you have tried three times, it is time to re-evaluate where you are in the program. Upon request, the UC will help you in that re-evaluation. But, before you may try again, you will need to convince at least one member of the UC that you have made significant enough changes or now possess the required skills that the results of another attempt will be successful. That UC member will then “champion” your request to the full USC who will determine if another look is warranted.
Q10. If I have questions, who do I contact?
A10. Contact any member of the UC. Members are: Bruce Cook, Don Becker, Christine Accettella, Sandy Grosvenor, John Pratt, Doug Sloan and Glenn Oliver.
Q11. Who are the US Assessors?
A11.They are the following umpires: Bruce Cook, Kirk Brown, Don Becker, Ted Everingham, Henry Menin, Dave Pyron Steve Wolff, Tom Rinda, John Pratt, Sandy Grosvenor, David Pelling and Steve Wrigley.Regional Assessors are:Christine Accettella, Doug Sloan, Glenn Oliver, Greg Kiely, Peter Wilson, David Blackman, Charlie Arms, and Rob Overton.
Q12. Is re-certification automatic?
A12. No. The UC requires that you submit an application for re-certification before your existing certification period expires so that it can review your qualifications to be a certified umpire. The application asks for your SOARS log for the previous 4 years and other information such as workshops attended and tests taken. While references are not specifically required for a re-certification application, the UC reserves the right to contact other umpires about you just as it would for an original application. If the UC should decide that you no longer meet the qualifications to remain a certified umpire, it can deny your renewal application.
Updated 11 December 2012