International judge Chris Lindsay celebrated success as he was selected as a judge for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Chris, from Carrickfergus Sailing Club, said being a judge was “The best hobby in the world”, giving him opportunities to travel and meet people he would never have dreamed of.
The selection process to be picked for the Olympic Games is highly competitive as the international federation selects just 26 people from a list of about 300 qualified judges. Chris is also the only Irish judge to be selected, highlighting just how well he is regarded on the international stage.
While this is his second Olympics, Tokyo 2021 was held during the Covid-19 pandemic, so things were a little different. In Chris’s words, all being well, this Olympics promises all the usual “excitement, adrenaline and time working with close friends and colleagues.”
Following the appointment Chris said: “I got my appointment letter by email while I was at work and it’s fair to say that it made my day. Being selected for the Olympics is a huge privilege. The hard bit was that I was sworn to secrecy until the full list was published by World Sailing- I will admit to telling my parents!
“Preparation is a little bit different to the athletes in that we don't have to worry too much about our fitness thankfully! We do have to make sure we are well prepared though. Before the last Olympics the judges met online every fortnight for around 6 months before the Games, reviewing the rules and making sure that everyone was on the same page. Most of us will not have experience with all of the Olympic classes, but we need to make sure we can cope with everything.
“I have a lot of experience with fast catamarans like the Nacra but much less with the iQFoil and Kite classes. For me, it will be about making sure I am fully up to speed with the rules for those classes. Especially as an umpire, you are very conscious that you may be making the decision about which sailor goes home with a Gold medal around their neck, and you won't have time to look up the rules!”
Chris’s experience is not purely limited to dinghy sailing which is what he will be required to adjudicate in Paris. Recently he has been working as a Sail GP umpire. This modern format of racing sees boats travel at over 80km/h and requires umpires to process information at high speeds.
Chris said: “The main difference is that I will be in the same location (and time zone) as the sailors! SailGP is totally unique in that the umpires are all operating remotely using the state-of-the-art tracking and video technology. At the Olympics, we'll be up close and personal with the sailors in the hearing rooms and on-the-water. The job will involve spending the day on the water to monitor rule 42 (illegal propulsion), dealing with protest hearings later in the afternoon and finally umpiring the medal races at the end of the event.”
If you are interested in becoming a judge or an umpire, why not try a course on the RYA website? It’s a great way to learn more about your rules and develop your sailing.