Become a certified judge!
Per Tom Barrett:
When I started going to the judging seminars, about 10 years ago, I went because I was interested in learning about the racing rules of sailing. It wasn't so that I could take advantage of my fellow competitors, it was so that I could, hopefully, stay out of the protest room. It wasn't until I started being a judge that I really got to see how the rules work and be more aware of actions of boats around me.
For instance: as you approach and cross the finish line, you hear a horn and then immediately start your engine to get out of the way of other finishers. Did you violate a rule? Well, yes, you violated rule 42 which doesn't allow engine use while racing. You heard the horn, so you finished. Right? No, you are still racing until you clear the line. No part of you boat can be on the line. A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she has cleared the line.
If I hadn't taken the seminar, I probably wouldn't have realized the implications of the rules. I've often been surprised when asked about a rule and know the answer right of the top of my head!
One of the benefits of going to the seminar is you meet experienced judges who will answer almost any question that comes up. Of course judges are instructed to be careful about answering such questions because when you present your question, only one side of the story is usually given.
At the seminar, you will have the opportunity to participate in mock hearings to get the experience of how a protest hearing works and be more comfortable in the role of a sailing judge.
After taking the seminar, passing the test, and participating in a few protest hearings, you become a certified US Sailing Judge (to be called a Regional Judge starting 2020) and have a term of 4 years. Before the fourth year is up, you need to retake the seminar and test to remain certified. I've taken the seminar and test several times with the most recent 2016. Each time, I learn something new.
Tom Barrett, US Sailing Judge
2019- Nov 16-17 Judge Seminar Announcement flyer FINAL.pdf