I had a particularly good stage Mckenzie's Headland to Icebergs in yesterday's Rough Water because of the "third umpire". Wondering where the heck to go to find the next mark after turning at McKenzie's, I heard a board paddler say: "Head for the tall building - the hotel". Which I did and sailed straight to the mark while those ahead went south.
The North Bondi Surf Club boys were on the job throughout, directing traffic and creating a relatively narrow corridor for swimmers. It meant even the navigational drongos got it right. Is this a good thing? I think not. Spot Anderson babbles on ad nauseam trying to convince us trainees to navigate: swim straight to the buoys. He goes on and on and on about it. And he's right: you can transform your day with a bit of navigation.
The thing is, when you're busting for air, aching all over and suffering spears of shark-attack terror, it takes something to assemble your mind to really navigate. It's a wonderful part of the mental struggle of ocean swimming and it should be left to competitors to sort it out, not the "third umpire".