Why volunteerism is falling

Published on November 17th, 2019

Having witnessed elite race officers come together in committee, discussing how to improve the standard of race administration, we find it both terrific and troubling to see heightened attention toward standards.

While it’s a losing argument to discourage running good races, the increasing steps to get there become obstacles, as detailed in this report by L. Carl Schellbach, Jr.


While US Sailing’s Race Officer (RO) educational and certification system strives for uniformity of race management at a high level (and keeps the provided insurance more affordable), the hoops one must jump through to obtain and maintain certification are getting ever more extensive and intrusive.

The requirements are now well beyond what is needed to put a mark in the right place and run a starting sequence.

The SafeSport training (a legal requirement) is now an annual affair, having arisen relatively abruptly about a year ago. Background checks (into what?) are being instituted. This is in excess of the training one needs to be certified as a RO or judge.

The training itself is difficult to obtain; there is only one certified RMS instructor in the entire state of Florida on a full-time basis, of only three total. Applying to be an instructor on the website is difficult at best, the links labeled to do so take you to apply to be a RO.

I have asked why a certified National Race Officer needs to go through an extensive process to become certified to teach the Basic (One Day) Race Management seminars, which would more than double the educational talent pool immediately in the state. The only answer I’ve gotten is that US Sailing wants to decide who is able to teach.

Seems to me that the folks who take the courses would be better judges of that, and someone who doesn’t do a good job wouldn’t get the job very often. I’m not sure that I have the energy, and pretty certain that I don’t have the time, to go through another certification process on top of what it already takes to maintain my RO certification.

And we wonder why volunteerism for the job is falling? The harder you make it, the less of it you get.


MORE: The US Sailing Board of Directors approved a background check policy for race officials whose purpose is to further ensure a safe environment for all participants in our sport and protect persons at risk, including minors and vulnerable adults. To learn more, click here.

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