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History being made at Sail Melbourne tomorrow

by Di Pearson on 13 Jan 2006
Umpiring has been frequently used in the 49er class for adjudication Jeff Crow/ Sport the Library http://www.sportlibrary.com.au
Tomorrow Sail Melbourne officials will, for the first time, test the new Olympic sailing format that will be used at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Following races completed today, the top ten placed boats, following one race drop, will advance to the Medal Race from which the winners in each class will be decided.

Competitors will carry their series scores (ie total of race scores after discard) through to the Medal Race. Any series tie after the Medal Race will be broken in favour of the boat finishing higher in the Medal Race and double points will be scored for that race. If the Medal Race is not completed, medals will be awarded based on the series score for all the prior races (in the normal way).

Racing for all classes will be conducted on one course at 20 minute intervals. Twelve on-water umpires split into two teams will be there to handle any protest situations. Chief Umpire, Joe Butterfield (the 13th man), will be on the race course to immediately handle any requests for redress.

'It is umpired fleet racing as per ISAF Appendix Q,' said Principal Race Officer, Kevin Wilson, explaining, 'if a competitor fails to ask for a decision under Appendix Q, the umpires will not take action.'

He went on to say: 'Sail Melbourne is testing the new format on behalf of ISAF (the international body). Race Officers and jury will then give feedback to be passed onto ISAF, including any issues and management of the 12 required umpires.'

Those competitors who did not make the top ten, visitors to Melbourne and the general public will be able to view history taking place, as the course will be set just off the host venue, Sandringham Yacht Club in full sight of all. The public can either take to the water, or go to the breakwater, or the car park, just above the club for a birds-eye view of the action.

Although the 2.4mR are a Paralympic class, rather than an Olympic one, they have requested to be part of the new format and will race as well.

Kevin Wilson will oversee proceedings, whilst his brother Ross is the Chief Race Officer, who will take charge of on-water proceedings.

At a logistics meeting tomorrow morning, each competitor will be furnished with a protest flag, not something they would normally carry, so that should they wish to protest, the flag will be used to alert umpires who will make an immediate decision.

'It will be like watching match racing, except there will be ten boats instead of two,' Kevin Wilson said. 'Most competitors are looking forward to seeing what happens,' said South Australian coach Brendan Todd. 'They are quite excited about trying it and about being the first to trial it,' he added.

Ross Wilson commented: 'I am confident things will run smoothly and keep on schedule, given there will be only one course to manage.'

Joe Butterfield said: 'We umpires are nervous but confident.'

Medal winners in each class will be known immediately at the completion of racing. However, rather than present medals onshore (as it will be at the Olympics), medals will be given at a prize-giving ceremony that evening at Sandringham Yacht Club.

Following is the order of racing:

2.4mR first off at 11.40am, 49er at 12.00pm, Yngling at 12.20pm, Tornado at 12.40pm, Laser Radial at 1.00pm, Laser at 1.20pm, Finn at 1.40pm, 470 Men at 2.00pm, 470 Women at 2.20pm, RS:X Women at 2.40pm and RS:X Men at 3.00pm.

Umpires are: Team A; Bill Bell, Geoff Searle, Paul Withers, Peter Merritt, Rob Ware and Paul Pascoe.

Team B: Bill O’Hara, Paddy Oliver, Peter Scheuerl, John Middleton, Alan Carlisle and John Kirkjian.
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