Mike Martin (USA) has been appointed Director of Umpiring and
Rules Administration of the 34th America's Cup by America's Cup
Race Management (ACRM).
One of the major challenges he faces is making it possible for the
umpires to deliver fast and equitable decisions on rule infringements
when the boats are travelling at high speed.
Clearly the old way of doing it was not going to work so technology has come to the rescue.
"We'll have a whole new approach to umpiring that utilizes the latest position tracking technology to enable decisions to be made quicker, more consistently and more accurately. This will enable us to bring the viewing audience into the action on every call," said Martin.
The intention is to use live TV images with lines overlaid over the screen. Quite how this works in reality remains to be seen, as the animation which has become an integral part of television coverage over the last twenty years, allows the viewing of the racing and incidents - including an upwind perspective which is not possible using helicopters mounted cameras.
The Racing Rules have been simplified and electronic umpiring introduced after trials in San Francisco. Murray says that the accuracy is now down to 20mm and the Umpires for the 34th America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Cups will now operate from a booth ashore and communicate to the competitors electronically.
It would seem that the days of penalty turns have also gone, which were always going to be very interesting at the top end of the wind range. Instead the Umpires will assess a penalty for the infringing boat and will drop them back so their advantage is lost and a punitive penalty applied.
So what has all this got to do with windsurfing or indeed the way that rules are applied at Olympic Class sailing events world wide?
Well clearly what happens over there in San Francisco will soon appear over here in an Olympic class sailing regatta near you. The days of having 5 members of an international jury on site are numbered.
Note also that the racing rules have been simplified to make the racing more spectator friendly.
We live in excting times. Change is in the air. Technology is being put to work in all aspects of sailing making it easier for the media and those outside the sport to become engaged with our sport.
We cannot bury our heads in the sand. We have to be pro-active in putting these developments to work for us. Waiting for the Technological Tsunami to strike is not an option...