Judging the caber is the most difficult heavy event to judge.
In most cases two judges must be used:
- The back-judge runs the event and makes the time call on turned cabers
- The side-judge makes the call on partial turns.
- Both judges should be able to make the call on whether a pick occurred when the event starts and both are needed on making a fifer call.
The reason for two judges is that
- the back-judge cannot accurately call a partial turn angle.
- the side-judge cannot accurately determine the established path to make a time call on for a turn.
Turning the caber is as about proving you can handle the caber (direction of the run) and more so about the accuracy of the turn. Braemaring the caber should not be allowed as the athlete has not proven he can handle the caber. IT is tradition!
The caber field should be laid out by the AD with the various rule sets allowing the judge to “refine” the boundaries:
Borges Based Rules: The judge may set boundaries if he feels the ground in a certain area is not suitable for the caber to be tossed. Safety should be a primary concern and the caber should not be too close to the spectators at any time during the toss. …. and may toss the caber from where he chooses, as long as it is within the judge’s boundaries.
NASGA Based Rules: The judge may set boundaries if he feels the ground in a certain area is not suitable for the caber to be tossed or to provide safety for the spectators.
There is an emphasize on safety in those rules. RMSA rule sets took this issue one step further and explicitly stated what Borges Rules set implicitly stated by the introducing of Dodge Lines. USDA rules adopted RMSA wording.
From RMSA rules book:
Dodge Line: A safety line designation for the Caber event. This line is laid out for the caber area 20’ inside the spectator fence and 20’ away from any other events or tents. The rule is then stated that “The competitor has to stay within the Dodge lines AND the top (heavy end) of the caber has to land inside the Dodge lines. This will assure that the caber in its entirety will land inside the fence and away from other events or tents.”
Similar verbiage appears in Borges based rules:
Where the ground is uneven a mark should be made from near which, and not beyond which, the toss shall be made.
If the Dodge line is used and/or under Borges version, the throw will be considered a foul or no turn if the competitor tosses the large end of Caber into the forbidden area (area between the dodge line and spectator’s line or beyond the line where ground is uneven).
The Judge should give a brief safety and educational speech (depending on experience of the throwers) before the start of this event. This speech should include:
- What will be considered a foul
- What will be considered an attempt
- What is out of bounds (Dodge lines?).
- How a full turn will be judged.
- Whether the thrower will need to establish a direction of run before the attempted turn; or whether Braemaring the caber is allowed
- Whether the thrower will need to freeze after the pull.
- Judges Instructions should be followed (which is usually aimed at lower divisions).
- If the judge yells “get out” or “drop the caber”, than the competitor should follow the judges instruction.
- The judge should explain the best way to get out from underneath the caber
- The judge should remind competitors that cabers can bounce and when they do, they can hurt.
- When judging an inexperienced flight, the judge will need to explain how the thrower will receive the caber (Making a cup with their feet) and that they are to indicate that they have control of the caber.
- Once stood up, the last throw should ask competitor if he has it. His positive response in most cases indicates the start of his attempt.
- Showmanship: The judge should emphasize that this is the premier event of Heavy Athletics and to keep the mystique about how difficult turning a caber is, that under no circumstances are athletes to pick up the caber by themselves as this erodes some of the mystique.
Late pulls and broken cabers:
- The judge should emphasize, especially for flights with very strong inexperienced throwers, that when they pull late:
- they will not turn the caber
- they will drive the top end of the caber into the ground causing an abrupt stop which leads to snapping the caber.
- The judge should also convey that cabers are not necessarily easy to come by and the thrower will gain respect of their peers, judges, and AD when they lay the caber down rather than making a late pull.
- Perhaps pass along the age old advice when you feel the caber leave your shoulder, the thrower should start the pull as this will help reduce late pulls.
- For inexperienced flights, the judge should also give advice on what constitutes a late pull and when to pull the caber to avoid late pulls.
Conducting the Event
- The competitor who threw first in the last event is placed last in this event and all others moves up one place in the throwing order.
- Some competitions ignore this tradition and do not rotate order.
- No Extra Throws are given in the caber event.
- However, there maybe a challenge caber
- The Judge controls the pace of an event by enforcing Throwing Etiquette.
- The Judge needs to initially call whose up and whose on deck.
- The Judge should ask throwers to remember who they follow so he/she does not have to constantly repeat the order.
- When appropriate, the judge will need to remind throwers that they shag their Caber for the next athlete.
- When appropriate, remind the throwers that this is entertainment event and nobody is to carry the caber by themselves as that takes away from the mystique of the event
- Shagging includes the placing of the caber, small end down, at the feet of the next competitor and standing the caber up.
- ONCE STOOD UP, the shagger asks the thrower if he has it. The affirmative response signals the start of the competitors attempt.
Selecting the Right Caber
- Caber selection is more of an art form than skill
- When in doubt ask the AD which one of his cabers would be appropriate for the division being judged.
- The following chart can be used as a guide for selecting cabers.
Some events use a qualifier caber. How this caber is used varies between events but in all cases, the athlete needs to be able to turn the qualifier to move on to the competition caber. The AD may leave this up to you.
- Single Attempt Qualifier – Each thrower has one attempt at the qualifying caber, if the athlete does not turn it, they are placed last as they do not get an opportunity at the competition caber.
- Three Attempt Qualifier – Each thrower has up to three attempts to turn the qualifying caber.
- The competitor needs to turn it just once to qualify for attempts on the competition caber.
- Once turned, they are considered qualified and thus do not get to use any additional turns as practice — less abuse on the cabers and moves the event along.
- Scoring Qualifier – Just like the other qualifiers, to move on to the competition caber, the contestant must turn the Scoring Qualifier.
- Some events require all competitors to take all three turns on the qualifier and all three turns on the qualifier are scored (no matter if the competitor has turned the qualifier or not).
- Other events, score the qualifier until the caber is turned, allowing those who do not turn the qualifier, will be ranked by degrees on the qualifier rather than all tie for last place.
Competitor’s Starting Position
The judge should attempt to position the competitor to receive the caber on the caber field so that:
- the competitor has enough room to move back and side-to-side as he/she recovers the balance of the caber after the pick — this is a MUST.
- Not having the caber in far enough from the back line is mistake often done, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
- Are there seated spectators? Children? People not paying attention? — If any of these are behind the pick, there could be trouble if the caber is not started far enough in the field
- Not having the caber in far enough from the back line is mistake often done, which can lead to disastrous consequences.
- the divots from this caber toss should be located in relatively the same location.
- This is a function of the softness of the ground.
- Those classes that use smaller cabers usually do not run as far as those with bigger cabers and should be started farther down the caber field resulting in the caber divots being in approximately the same area of the field.
- This will avoid divots in the middle of the caber field
- This will improve safety for competitors in divisions which have not yet contested this event as they do not have to worry as much about turning an ankle.
Balancing the safety concerns is the following rule:
- The competitor may take any length of run they wish and may toss the caber from where they choose, as long as it is within the judge’s boundaries.
- Before the attempt begins, the back judge and side judge should scan the Caber Field for those who are passing through (throwers moving from one throwing pit to the next, patrons who wonder out on the field, …).
- A call of “Caber is up” has been known to be used to alert others on or around the field.
- At times, a judge will need to encourage the competitor to get out from under the caber:
- so that the thrower does not injure his/herself.
- so that the thrower does not injure others or do property damage.
- If the competitor fails to head the judges warning to get out from under the caber, the judge should pull the competitor to the side and explain that his warning are for his own safety and should be heeded.
- If the safety of others (throwers, spectators, volunteers, ….) were put in jeopardy by the competitor, a more stern warning maybe needed and that he risks forfeiting the remainder of his attempts
- In the interest of safety, the judge has the right to disqualify any competitor who, in the judge’s opinion, does not have the ability to complete a throw without undue risk of injury to himself, other competitors, or spectators.
Back Judging: Were to Stand for the Pick
Most judges choose to stand directly behind the competitor before the caber is picked as this allows the judge to determine the direction of the run used in scoring (especially for those who take a limited number of steps before their attempt).
- Sometimes, there is no safe place to stand so always be on your toes
- The judge should be at least a caber’s length behind the competitor to provide the judge room to maneuver out of the way if the pick goes bad. This will be highlighted in the below video.
This video shows some of the things that happen at the beginning of the caber event:
- The athlete loses complete control of the caber
- The caber gets behind the athlete and he has to drops it
- The importance of starting the pick far enough in to give the athlete enough room to try backing underneath the caber and if he can’t to give him room to safely drop it.
- Are there anybody seated behind where the caber is picked? Can they move out of the way fast enough if the caber is dropped?
- The dangers of the caber event to pop-up tents
This video also emphasizes that the judge should be at the very least be a caber length behind the athlete before the pick. Perhaps this is why some judges prefer to be to the side when the caber is picked. Once the caber is up, the judge moves behind the athlete as he starts his run.
- This method give the judge a good view of whether the athlete has started the event by lifting the caber (see below).
- If the judge is able to maneuver behind the competitor quickly to determine the direction of the run before the competitor plants and pulls, then this is not a problem.
- If the competitor takes only a few steps, some question if this feat is possible — maybe a good method for judging the better divisions with bigger cabers that require more of a run.
The rules have minor variations on when an attempt begins:
- NASGA Based Rules: The attempt begins when the competitor lifts the caber from the ground.
- If the competitor drops the small end of the caber back to the ground after having picked it up, this shall count as one attempt.
- Borges based Rules: As soon as the competitor receives the caber and the stewards stand clear, the attempt commences.
- If the competitor allows the caber to fall before lifting it off the ground, this shall count as an attempt.
- If the competitor drops the small end of the caber back to the ground after having picked it up, this also counts as an attempt.
- The side judge has as good of if not better vantage point to determine whether the thrower picked and set the caber back down. If your a side judge, do not be afraid to speak up
This is another case where standardization of the rules should occur as Bores based rules is often used even if judged under NASGA based rules.
Passing Throw the Vertical Position and Fifers
Borges Rules: The caber must pass through the vertical position in order to count as a turned caber. The vertical position is 90 degrees and it is up to the side judge to determine if the caber has passed through it.
NASGA Rules: The caber must pass through the vertical position (90 degrees from the ground) in order to count as a turned caber. It is up to the side judge to determine if the caber has passed through it.
Both rule sets state that “It is up to the side judge to determine if the caber has passed through it.” If the caber does not pass through the vertical and falls forward on the clock face, the throw is called a fifer and is given a degree score. Some judges and ADs believe that it is the responsibility for both the back and side judge to call fifers — see Judging Fifers
Clock Face Scoring and the Direction of the Run
This is were clear communication to the flight on how the caber will be judged is important.
The “clock face method” of judging shall be used. The caber in a perfect toss will pass through the vertical position and land with the small end pointing directly at 12 o’clock in an imaginary straight line extending from the competitor through the initial landing point and in line with the direction of the run. An overhead view is drawn below to demonstrate a 12 o’clock toss. (See figure 4)
Borges Based Rules – Direction of the Run:
The direction of run is determined by the path taken once the competitor is deemed by the judge to be in control of the caber (this can be as little as the last two or three steps). The competitor may run in one direction and then stop and change direction, as long as they maintain control of the caber. If the caber lands in a 12 o’clock position pointing away from the competitor but not in a direct line with their run, then the judge must determine the competitor’s original direction of run and establish where a true 12 o’clock toss would be. He must then give an appropriate judgment based on the amount of deviation from the line.
Under no circumstances shall a fixed trig or stance be used.
NASGA Based Rules – Direction of the Run:
The direction of run is determined by the direction in which the competitor runs after having control of the caber. An overhead view is drawn below in Figure 4 to demonstrate a toss such as this.
Once the competitor has started on his run, the judge should pick a point in the horizon to use as a reference point once the toss has been made. The competitor may run in one direction and then stop and change directions as long as they show control over the caber.
Clock Face Scoring
The caber must be judged on its landing position, not the position to which it may bounce or roll.
The “clock face method” of judging is used in all rule sets:
The caber in a perfect toss will pass through the vertical position and land with the small end pointing directly at 12 o’clock in an imaginary straight line extending from the competitor through the initial landing point and in line with the direction of the run. An overhead view is drawn below to demonstrate a 12 o’clock toss.
A valid turn is when the small end of the caber passes through the vertical position and falls away from the competitor to land within the 180-degree radius, between 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.
An overhead view is drawn below to demonstrate some turned cabers and how they are scored.
If the competitor does not turn the caber, then it is the responsibility of the side judge to determine the angle at which the caber was tossed with respect to the 90 degree vertical. The side judge should be perpendicular to the competitors’ line of approach in order to make an accurate call. A picture of a view from the side judge’s position is shown below.
- Number one rule of scoring cabers is CONSISTENCY
- Two judges should be employed to score the caber. A back judge and side judge.
- If the caber toss results in a full turn, the back judge scores the caber on the clock face.
- If the caber toss results in a partial turn, the side judge scores the caber on degrees.
- I believe it is both judges responsibility to determine whether the caber went through the vertical (fifer or not).
- I believe it is both judges responsibility that the competitor has not picked the caber and set it back down, which constitutes an attempt.
Some thoughts on using minimum measurement increments or units.
Suggested Units for Partial Turns
- Units for a partial turn should be every 5 degrees. This increment of measurement should be evenly applied for all angles up to 90 degrees.
- The units should be rounded to the nearest increment, not rounded down as in distance measurements.
Suggested Units for Full Turns
- Units for full turn should be every 15 minutes on the clock face.
- Some judges apply this increment of measurement evenly for all times from 9:00 to 3:00.
- While other judges increase the increment accuracy around 12:00 so that only a true 12:00 turn is awarded this score. The remaining parts of the 15 minute unit is assigned to 11:55 and 12:05.
- The units should be rounded to the nearest increment, not rounded down as in distance events.
- Never give out a 12:00 unless it is truly a 12:00. You are better off being ridiculed fro giving out a 12:05, then hurting the athlete who turns a true 12:00
Why Minimum Measuring Units Should Be Used:
- The scoring of the caber has to be done almost instantaneously.
- Compounding this instantaneous decision is that the caber in all likelihood will bounce or move after landing and the athlete will also move after the pull to turn the caber.
- Larger measuring units rounded to the nearest unit gives a margin of error and does not imply precision that does not exist.
- If the caber is broken during a competition, the AD’s heart will also break.
- Duct taping the caber from below to above the crack may allow its use through the remainder of the round.
- Using lath as a splinted and then duct taping the caber may provide a stronger temporary fix.
- If the caber is broken in competition and can not be repaired, a similar caber will be selected and the round will start over with all of the prior cabers results discarded.
- To get a cracked caber through a competition, they can be duct taped or splinted and duct taped.