Harken Derm

Questions about Conflict of Interest

Published on August 30th, 2018

New Zealander Mike Alison, an International Judge and National Umpire, asked the following questions on the Racing Rules of Sailing forum:

1) Can a coach of a school team, entered in the event, also umpire at the same event if there are insufficient suitable Umpires?

2) Can an employee of a Yacht Club, be an Umpire in a Teams Racing or Match Racing event, if that same club has a team or sailors entered in the event?

Here were some of the forum responses:

Steve Schupak (USA) – National Judge and Umpire:
1. Like all answers to umpiring questions, it depends…
2. See answer 1 above.

Matt Bounds (USA) – National Judge and Race Officer:
As Steve said, “It depends”. Generally, however:
1) No, unless the conflict (and there is a conflict) is stated in advance and everyone (OA and competitors/coaches) agrees to allow it. Having the OA and competitors/coaches sign a statement acknowledging the conflict and permitting it would be a good idea.
2) See #1. Depending on the employee’s position at the club, the conflict may be less serious than #1, but there is still a conflict.

Warren Nethercote (CAN) – International Judge:
A qualified yes is in order, but the smell test applies. Coaches often swell the ranks of umpires at team racing events but generally do not umpire their own team. The limitation is notional, since the same conflict of interest exists when umpiring other teams as does for one’s own. But is the conflict significant in the context of a local or regional event? I am reminded of my experience umpiring Opti team racing (neither often nor well, but I recognize that I am a judge rather than an umpire) where often as not my partner has been a coach or team manager. The same considerations apply to a club manager. In both cases, there comes a point (the importance of the event) where the conflict-of-interest considerations outweigh pragmatism.

For all the forum responses… click here.

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