Friday, June 11, 2010

TV Umpire call in sailing

The World Match Racing Tour had a world first in sailing on Thursday, during the second day of the Korea Match Cup, when the two umpires following the "Italian derby" between Paolo Cian and Francesco Bruni raised the TV flag and asked the opinion of a third umpire sitting in the TV control room, in front of a number of screens. The event being televised live with more than 10 cameras, the TV umpire might be in a position to have a much better view of the incident.

The "TV umpire" has 3 available calls: black out (where the incident has not been caught on camera), pending (meaning the TV umpire is in the process of replay for the incident) and lastly their decision on a penalty call where the incident is recorded in good visibility. Unlike other sports such as cricket or rugby, the "TV umpire" has a consultative role and his review is initiated by the on-the-water umpires. His call is not final and can be used in order to make the final decision. He can be compared to the wing umpires, the only difference being the fact he is sitting in the TV control room.

According to Harold Bennet, PRO of the Korea Match Cup, the addition of a TV Umpire is a "good and innovative idea" while he "applauds" the World Match Racing Tour for taking the initiative. For him, every step the sport is taking in order to make sure that the first boat to cross the line is the winner, avoiding lengthy protests afterwards, is always "good and positive".

The idea is still in its infant stages and might suffer from some teething problems but it is just in its first testing period and the philosophy behind its use in the Korea Match Cup is to see whether it works and to what extent it might help make the umpire calls even more accurate.

First call of a TV Umpire during actual racing. Jeogonk Marina, 10 June 2010. Video copyright World Match Racing Tour



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