Last year, Sail Canada reached an agreement with US Sailing for Sail Canada officials to use SOARS. It seemed to be a better idea than trying to develop our own software or to continue to use the Excel spreadsheet I once developed to record my judging activities. SOARS keeps the record of events for all types of sailing officials.

True confessions time: I am the world’s worst record keeper. I start off each year the same way; this year I will keep a running tab of my expenses for my income tax so I don’t have to do it all at once and hunt for the receipts, and I will keep my judging records up to date. Each year ends the same way, with only the very first item properly recorded.

It was with some skepticism that I approached SOARS for the first time. My first event in 2019 was in the US, where I worked with other US judges, who regularly use SOARS. I discovered, much to my delight, that the event had already been entered with the important information. All I had to do was add the event to my “logbook” and fill in my role. It took about two minutes. This is a dream for the lousy record keeper!

As the summer rolled along, I realized that procrastination worked in my favour (I ought not to be sharing this). If I didn’t try to enter my information until a week or so later, a US judge or Race Officer would have “created” the event, so it would take no time at all to add the event to my logbook. I also discovered that if I selected the right Canadian officials to work with, they would have done the same.

Then the day came when I realized I was going to have to create an event. I might have had to look up a thing or two, but honestly, it takes no time at all for even those of us who are organizationally challenged. And although I am no luddite, I am also not particularly technically inclined unless measured against my spouse. I didn’t even have to download the instructions to do it. SOARS is definitely user-friendly.

The only real shortcoming I have found is that the log does not keep a viewable tab of the judges or race committee members or other officials at an event. The name of the PRO and CRO are listed, as is the Chief Judge or Chief Umpire, but other members of the RC or Jury are not listed on the public portion of the event. I have been entering them under “Comments” on my log page, but that is a bit clunky, especially as I started only today so I am having to look them all up. I am sure those who created the event also have a list, so it would be so much easier for the likes of me if this information were stored for all to see.

 I haven’t tested the best part, which is that Sail Canada has access to my records, so when I next apply for re-certification, SC will be able to forward my logs to the Judges Sub-Committee for review. I won’t have to ask my fellow judges to provide me with all the information!

Wendy Loat, National Judge now on top of her record-keeping