Referee Tips

subpage

Notes From the Field: Trials Are Different!

by Bob Weiss | Oct 01, 2007
In the past six months, I have had the opportunity to referee at many different venues, from local Tampa regattas to the Stotesburys in Philadelphia. While each event was unique, the most unusual was the Under 23 World Championship trials at Lake Mercer.

In the past six months, I have had the opportunity to referee at many different venues, from local Tampa regattas to the Stotesburys in Philadelphia.  While each event was unique, the most unusual was the Under 23 World Championship trials at Lake Mercer.

This year, the under 23 trials were held in West Windsor, N.J., outside of Princeton.  The under 23 trials are held every year to pick the boats, both men and women, that will race at the Under 23 World Championships. The 2007 Under 23 Worlds were held in Strathclyde, Scotland. To prepare for the trials, I followed the direction of the chief referee, Tom Mannle and re-read the Rules of Rowing concerning trials events, additional information Tom sent, and anything else I could find regarding trials.  All of this helped prepare me for the event.

When I arrived at the boathouse and saw and felt the tension of the competitors, I truly appreciated the seriousness of what we were involved in. These rowers are clearly the elite U.S. rowers in the age classification.  As a result there were many fewer competitors than I expected. Some events had five or six competitors, while many had only one. They had prepared incredibly hard for this event and it was evident that they neither needed nor wanted any outside distractions. According to instructions from the chief, our job was to perform our duties while trying to be as invisible as possible.  At all regattas, we are admonished that the rowers are under pressure and that we should not put any more on them. Consider that at the under 23’s, young men and women who had trained for years were now competing against each other as well as meet a time standard to represent the United States. Under that scenario, our instructions took on an entirely new meaning.

On Monday, the referees first met to discuss typical items, such as position assignments, as well as matters unique to the trials, like the order of events, progression of boats, commands and minimum performance standards (MPS).  The MPS is a time, set by the High Performance Committee of USRowing that all boats must beat in order to represent the United States in international competition. This nuance of a trial adds an additional level of pressure to an already challenging event.

We were told that each of the first three days of the trials would have the same order of events. The same competitors row against each other to determine who would represent the U.S., assuming they also met the MPS. In the events with multiple competitors, the strategy of these athletes was to win their event, not necessarily beat the MPS. The fourth day of racing was reserved for the teams who had not yet met the MPS to have one more chance to beat it. The pressure to win and to beat the MPS was extraordinary. Our job was to officiate a safe and fair competition, while not adding to the stress. So at the end of the third day, none of the boats had met the MPS. On Thursday, the fourth day, we had sixteen boats racing against time. Fortunately, almost all the boats beat the MPS and qualified for the World Under 23 Championships.

The under 23 trials were an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to work with a group of knowledgeable and experienced professionals on the referee corps.  I also saw outstanding rowers compete and excel under unbelievable pressure.  Additionally, I met and worked with many of the members of the USRowing staff, who also did remarkable jobs. This is an experience that I will never forget, and I am proud to have been a small part of it.

Advertisement
    AmazonLibrary 250x250
    Promotive 250x250
    May Madness Graphic
Sponsors
sub-row
Kinesio Logo