Mitch - To answer your questions, I'll refer to the rules. Basically, 50.2 says that a spin or whisker pole mast be attached to the mast. The outrigger section (50.3(b) and 50.3(c)) basically define a pole.
The length of the pole is set by the J dimension. If it's greater than J, then it's a spin pole. When I received my rating, I deduced this by inference since I was claiming a non-spin pole credit and to get the credit, the whisker pole had to be less than the J. Hence, I deduced that a spin pole is J or greater.
Since the other boat was using a boat hook that was about 6'-8' long and held by a person, not attached to the mast (neither the pole nor the person), they were in violation of 50.2. I don't see anything about a person standing forward or aft of the mast, but if it's in the rules somewhere, I'll stand (or sit) corrected!
Poles; Whisker Poles
Only one spinnaker
pole or whisker pole shall be used at a time except
when gybing. When in use, it shall be attached to the foremost mast.
50.3 Use of Outriggers
(a) No sail shall be sheeted over or through an outrigger, except as
permitted in rule 50.3(b) or 50.3(c). An outrigger is any ﬁtting
or other device so placed that it could exert outward pressure on
a sheet or sail at a point from which, with the boat upright, a
would fall outside the hull or deck planking. For the
purpose of this rule, bulwarks, rails and rubbing strakes are not
part of the hull or deck planking and the following are not out-
riggers: a bowsprit used to secure the tack of a working sail, a
bumkin used to sheet the boom of a working sail, or a boom of a
boomed headsail that requires no adjustment when tacking.
(b) Any sail may be sheeted to or led above a boom that is regularly
used for a working sail and is permanently attached to the mast
from which the head of the working sail is set.
(c) A headsail may be sheeted or attached at its clew to a spinnaker
pole or whisker pole, provided that a spinnaker
is not set.