The Thames Region has more competitors, Regattas and Head Races than any other part of the UK. To ensure every event has sufficient licensed Officials there needs to be at least 110 active people on the Umpires list. There is a great variety of events and opportunities for Umpiring in the Thames Region are limited solely by the availability of the individuals on the list.
Umpires come from a variety of backgrounds within the sport. It is helpful if you have competed yourself, although many successful Umpires have come into the sport via Administration or through their involvement with a Head Race or Regatta.
Umpiring is entirely voluntary but many events provide hospitality for their Officials. There are opportunities to move on to obtaining a Multi-Lane endorsement to your Licence and a number of Umpires from our Region have gone on to obtain their International (FISA) Licence.
For Insurance reasons, Umpires are required to be members of 'British Rowing'.
An Umpires Licence is granted for three years. During this time you would be expected to do a minimum of six events each year. Event Secretaries are at liberty to invite the Umpires of their choice, and an Umpires Licence is valid for the whole country.
It is common practice for Umpires to work 'out of Region'. There is, of course, no limit to the number of events an individual can choose to attend. Commonly a Regatta will expect an Umpire to be available for at least half of the day.
Within the Thames Region we operate a scheme which matches Umpires seeking work to events that are short of Umpires.
Umpires duties at events vary enormously. For example, Race Starters, Aligners, Umpires, the Chief Judge and the Head of the Control Commission must be licensed Umpires. A Regatta must have a Race Committee whose Chair and at least two other members must be Licensed. Many events use Umpires to check the 'points books' before releasing the prizes. At a Head Race the Chief Umpire must be licensed.
Training starts in January or February and finishes in the Autumn. After an introduction evening, candidates take a written exam a few weeks later.
In April, they ideally attend an Umpires Seminar. These Seminars are held each Spring and every Umpire must attend a Seminar at least every three years. They are a vital communication link between Umpires.
Candidates attend a minimum of two heads and six regattas during the season. Here they are given an opportunity to experience the work of Umpires and to practice their own skills. At regattas each candidate's performance will be observed and marked by an examiner.
Before the exam in July/August a 'mock' practical' exam is offered to all candidates where they can practice on the 'table-top' courses used for the exam.
Successful candidates will not formally receive their licence until the National Umpires Commission meets in the following January. However, once they have passed their practical exam, they will be encouraged to work at events in the Autumn and Winter, under supervision.
Supervision and Standards
The Training Commissioners; currently Roy Prosser and Gary Painter, ensure that each candidate receives the training, advice, supervision and support that is appropriate. They (and/or other commission members) attend the training Regattas and ensure that the trainees are given every chance to reach the required standards.
The Thames Region believes it has the best Umpires and the best training programme in the UK. The standards demanded are high and exacting. Only this way can we provide our competitors with the fair and safe racing they deserve.