ASRL Open, Shellharbour 2015:
Wow what did Shellharbour do to the surf gods? Two major events in 10 years and they copped it in heavy surf conditions both times.
It was a very tough few days for the club and officials to quickly handle all the changes. As always happens when an event of this size has to be shifted it throws up significant complications for the organizers.
Congratulation to all the winners, after some very tough competition it certainly points to Aussies being a very hotly contested finale to the season.
We offer a big thank you from all of our competitors to the Shellharbour Surf Club and your band of willing workers.
Thanks also to the Warilla Barrack Point Surf Club who opened its doors and arms to us when we needed them.
Thanks to all our Officials for the time you put into our sport not just on this special weekend but continuously around the country every weekend.
Some of the difficulties we simply couldn't fix for you in the time frame but somehow we all made it to the end and our top crews have been crowned.
One of the disappointing aspects creeping into our sport is a willingness to look to blame as soon as something doesn't go as we may wish. Some seem to want our sport to have a standard size football pitch where the side-lines and goal posts are always in the same spot. It would be great if this could be the case but the very nature of what we do dictates it can't always be the same. Disappointing, we agree when something in the chain doesn't go to plan but always looking to make it someone's fault isn't the answer either.
Making tough decisions under extreme pressure can be tough; conditions can cause real issues for officials and organisers. Many decisions are made off the back of direct feedback from our Boat Sweeps so what may not work for some won't be a problem for another and we have to keep this in mind.
No one is more concerned than the ASRL Committee to try to get it right. If we could fix every issue we would but when you are dealing with many factors including venues, councils, the public, conditions and workers at several levels not everything is as easy as it would seem.
We are certainly not happy with every aspect of the weekend and with the benefit of hindsight some things would have been done differently. Let's do a break up on some of the issues:
a) We knew we were going to be dealing with difficult conditions and had backup locations in place. But then when it happened we still had to retrace many steps to shift from the approval stage to the actual implementation stage
b) The Carnival Committee consisting of our three Referees with input from the Boat Panel and off the back of the best possible observations and opinions the various calls were made.
c) In hindsight the original decision to shift could have been for the weekend but supported by a lot of information that wasn't the call so we live with the couple of shifts.
d) It is only when you are closely involved in the logistics of shifting an event do you ever get to appreciate just how many hoops have to be jumped through from surf clubs (plural) to councils to work parties, to caterers, to residents and of course to the competitors
For the event itself and where changes are needed if we can find the resources and move the SLS machine to do so:
In no specific order and nothing commented on is designed to be critical of all those that actually made the event happen.
1. Provide specific training for Officials into the requirement of each beach role undertaken so we end up with a sharper event in time, delivery and presentation
2. Make sweeping changes to the requirements of training required by our volunteers to become Officials in the first instance. We will be suggesting these changes to SLSA for consideration:
Need to identify the level of Official that requires a ticket and those that could come from the competitors or public. Below is the list that should be removed from the requirement for any prior training and be awarded a level of ticket that can be handed out on the day after an induction briefing from a senior official
a) Recorders - no ticket
b) Tower Judges no ticket
c) Draws and paperwork – no ticket
d) Marshalls – no ticket
e) Check Starter – no ticket
f) Starter – no ticket
g) Course Supervisor – no ticket
h) Video Finish Operator – no ticket
It should be understood that this isn't to undermine those Officials that already hold their ticket but the reality is that being a ticketed Official is a dying trade and urgent change management tactics are required to revolutionise how we attract and keep our event officials. This will of course require much debate and discussion but the ASRL are up for this challenge
3. Major events to have the position of Event Director to have the overarching role of managing the event above the level of Referee. The Referee like in every major sport controls the event in accordance with the Surf Sport Manual (Rules) but the Event Director sits across the event in a role that includes moving it along and managing the various Carnival Committees
We found many of the old SLS events systems lacking under pressure and will be looking at some radical changes over the off season for introduction in 2015/16.
A. Draws way to slow to come out due to inadequate communication equipment and an antiquated SLS chain of command system in operation so for major events at least we are now looking to: consider the purchase of a purpose made Beach Trailer enclosed to protect from the elements with fold down table etc. This trailer designed to travel on road and be towed onto beach right behind competition area. Trailer to be set up with generator pre wired power points and a dark room for viewing finish line video. This trailer could include printer and even computer if well designed. Could also be designed to allow commentators to use roof space
B. Due to the location change we lost control of our beach communication system. With that we lose the ability to pass along vital programing information to our crews. To overcome this we will investigate the availability of suitable electronic signboards that can be positioned onto the beach communication trailer to keep the information flowing
C. Starters Gun Issues across the State boarders. Some States operate under completely different sets of laws and rules as to who can use the Starters Gun. Basically if it fires a blank you need a State Govt Gun License in every State but in some you also require a SLS licence plus the holder of the actual Gun (in use) license must either be present or appoint a deputy to allow that gun to be fired under supervision. In some States at least even a Cap Pistol if it is in the shape of a gun will also require the same license arrangements and this hasn't even touched on the problems with Caps in wind and rain. To overcome all this we plan to trial the following: introduce a number of twin Horn units for all starts. The package to include a vertical pole that sits well above the starters head. On this pole sits a visible Amber, Green & Red rotating light. When the starter is in the old Gun Up readiness position he has taken up the start switch and activated the Amber Light. On pressing the Start button simultaneously the Bugle Horn sounds as the start light turns green. The red light is activated with one minute to run to elapsed time. On a recall the horn blasts and the Red light is activated.
D. Line Finish Cameras: We are as sick of commenting on this as you are at hearing excuses as to why it hasn't happened. We in fact did film the finals at Warilla and have done so on several other occasions but we still have one big hurdle to solve before the use of cameras can be common place. What we can already do is:
• Put a camera that works on the stand
• Operate the camera remotely from a close beach location
• Take the information from that camera and replay it onto a computer screen
• Place a finishing line across the screen and do slow run replays to determine the finishing places
What we haven't been able to solve:
• Remain operating the camera remotely to switch on and off while separating the already recorded footage from the previous race to evaluate the replay
• Gain the Wi-Fi distance required in every location to provide the reliable footage
We are close but not quite over the line so we have now gone to market looking for the professional outfit to provide the solution. It will come down to cost as we all know it can be done if money isn't the object. Those that watch motor racing or football each weekend will see the technology we require in operation as the main game goes on and the replay of an incident is shown in a small screen window. It simply isn't practical to try to operate with a multitude of cameras, one per race or to attempt to remove the Sims Card after every race. We are in the extreme of the elements so we need to have the complete solution.
Fairness of Race Courses & Event Format:
This is always the hotly debated issue and to be fair it has been since the introduction of the multiple buoy systems somewhere back in the 40's or 50's. Many things come into play in setting up the race course. Some that can be controlled easily and some that take a lot of attention and sometimes it simply can't be made perfect. Add the quality of our racing crews that across the board can produce a winner at many levels. Just some things that may affect how a course is set and under a combination of issues may dictate that the course simply can't be made perfect:
a. on a good day a set of cans simple badly set
b. at locations like Warilla in the north arena the predominant headland will always influence the wave shape and speed as it wraps around the point and this type of location is almost impossible to get right
c. a rip or bank in the middle of the race course
d. a deep water bank influencing the course out the back (think Nth Kirra 2012)
e. the shallow water bank at one end of the course (think Umina boat area)
f. the angle the predominant wave hits the finish line
As soon as a combination of different issues come into play obtaining a totally fair course will be difficult. As you will know the ASRL have been playing around with different event formats in an attempt to find the best options for our racing. One of the innovations we will examine for the future is the reduction from 6 to 4 the number of boats we put into the finals series. The reason being that it will always be easier to find 4 alleys racing fairer that it is for 6.
Another option is to look to the Tennis system where after say the top 16 or 12 crew stage is reached we go to head to head racing. Racing two boats at a time starting out of 5 & 6 first, 3 & 4, then 1 & 2 you are still using all 6 alleys or under this system we could throw in another couple of cans leaving an alley space between the three sets of crews. By running down from the 5/6 alley with the RH turn you are always turning away from following crews. By allowing the first line to clear the break before starting the second wave you avoid the danger of multiple boats in the surf zone. Done correctly this will add a couple of minutes only to the turnaround times so no big issue when down to the fastest crews. What it will do is be the fairest possible racing as both crews are side by side in the same conditions.
Hopefully some of this will enlighten many of you. It should assist you to see that it isn't as simple as pulling the starters gun to make an event of this size work perfectly but we can only control what we have control over. We can assure all members that we are continually striving for the perfect event and we acknowledge that is still out of our reach but if we continue to listen and learn it will surely come along.
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