Irish Sailing National and International Judge Chris Lindsay of Carrickfergus Sailing Club on Belfast Lough has been appointed as an International Technical Official (ITO) for the Tokyo Olympics. Not only will Chris be the only Irish race official in Tokyo, but he’ll also be taking on a brand new role as Video Officiating ITO (International Technical Official).
So what is a Video Officiating International Technical Official?
The Tokyo Olympics will be the first Olympics to have officials with an eye on the screen, using technology to provide a dedicated back up to the on-the-water ITO team. Chris will be working with new software that records the sailing live, and watching all the racing from behind a screen and noting potential rule infringements and other issues for the jury. This information is then available if required in a protest hearing or redress and helps to speed up the process.
Where did the love of umpiring begin?
There are many paths a sailor can take and Chris’s is a little different to most. He started out as a child on big boats at Carrickfergus Sailing Club, learning sailing “hands on”, mainly as there wasn’t much dinghy sailing back then.
While studying chemistry at Oxford, he joined the thriving and competitive world of University Team Racing. Chris describes Team Racing as being reliant on a good knowledge of the rules – it’s not about who’s the fastest, but who can work as a team and use the rules to their advantage. He was drawn to the role of umpire, loving the thrill and adrenaline of driving a rib out on the racecourse and making immediate decisions to keep the racing moving.
Chris is still in Oxford and finishing up a PhD on statins. But he loves nothing more than to spend a weekend working as a judge or race official back in Ireland whenever he can and says “the people I get to work with are the best part. Sitting at the post-event dinner with race officials from around the World and sharing stories. And that thrill and rush of being an umpire is second to none.”
How does a race official reach the heady heights of the Olympics?
Through commitment and hard work. Chris outlines the route he took: “getting the basics of Local Race Umpire, then National Umpire and onto International Umpire, all the while putting each level into practice, being active and in time World Sailing notice your commitment and work”. World Sailing choose the ITOs for the Olympics based on what they have noticed, experience, qualifications and references. There is no application process; instead “you just get a letter in the post informing you that you have been chosen”.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the Olympics is all about, being part of a hugely talented group of ITOs, being in the Olympic Village, watching the opening ceremony and of course the incredible sailing (albeit on-screen). This will be an event like no other.” Chris