More umpiring insights from WIM Series Technical Advisor, Henry Menin from the US Virgin Islands (America’s Cup Umpire, America’s Cup Rules Advisor, former Chair of the ISAF Match Racing Committee, and co-author of the only current book on match racing – “North U Match Racing“):
As umpires, we have an incredible view of the match. Our heads are really outside the boat. When a skipper or a team gets upset about what they perceive was a bad umpire call, we can immediately see the adverse effect it has on the quality of sailing on that team. This can be make or break when it comes to winning the flight.
An important thing to remember in this type of situation is to keep your cool and never scream at an umpire. You don’t do yourselves any favors for the
future. Yes, I think it is great to talk to the umpires, even on the water, but in a respectful way. Sometimes when you say something to an umpire, it may suggest something that they were not focused on at that moment and you may get them to act accordingly. So, it’s OK to say, “Hey, isn’t that a Red flag.”, or “Didn’t she go through head to wind.”, or “Double Gybe!”.
But remember, when all is said and done, the decision of the umpires is final and there is nothing you can do to change that. There is no appeal.
I listened to a speech given by Ted Turner (billionaire of America’s Cup fame) at the Congressional Cup banquet some years ago where he said, “After this regatta, I realized what I want to be when I get reincarnated. I want to be an umpire. They definitely have all the power.” At least in match racing, Ted gets it.
The most important thing is to have fun though and enjoy the game! And remember, when you put up the Y flag, you have taken your fate out of your own hands and put it into the hands of two people following behind you. Sometimes you have to, but sometimes you don’t.