Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race - A weather perspective

by Robin Hewitt on 2 Apr 2013
Melbourne to Osaka Race Veteran Robin Hewitt .
Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race 2013. A two-time Melbourne to Osaka veteran and with 29 Melbourne to Hobart Westcoasters under his belt, sailed on his beloved Yoko, Robin Hewitt knows a thing or two about the weather. In this article he explains why this race is so challenging and so special.

This race is unique because it crosses the weather climate systems of the world. Basically it starts from Melbourne in the Autumn Westerlies wind belt. Next as the yachts move North, they must cross through the centre of the southern belt of high pressure systems which is basically light winds or calms. Here there are two strategies possible-aim for ocean eddies and currents for a lift North or stick close to shore to hopefully avoid the Eastern Australian south flowing current and gamble on coastal breezes.

These are individual decisions which require knowledge of the individual boat and it's performance characteristics combined with a personal interpretation of the current weather situation. Hopefully the cyclone zone of Latitude 20 deg. to 10 deg. South is quiescent.

After breaking out of the light weather the equator side of the highs gives rise to the South-East trade winds and glorious spinnaker runs until meeting the Tropical Convergence Zone of light winds and calms often termed 'The Doldrums' . This lies roughly in the Solomon Seas area at this time of the year and the yachts must also squeeze through the 'Gate' between Islands and New Guinea- a navigational challenge. In the tropical areas, convection storms plague the yachts with blasts of high winds and tactical challenges to produce the best directional gains. Battling exhaustion combines with these difficulties to test the sailors further. Ocean currents and wind effects are further decision points in this area perhaps illustrated by New Ireland which is a narrow, razor backed, yet very high island with many influences. Also there is the Northern Typhoon area between 10deg and 20deg. N.

Breaking through this frustrating zone, yachts next enter the southern side of the Northern High Pressure belt otherwise known as the 'North-East Trades' . Here the miles and passage to Japan quickly mount with a series of tremendous daily runs before once again having to get through the light winds of the high pressure systems centre and preparing for the strategic approach to Japan in the fringe of the Northern Westerlies zone. By now the much fabled North Pole Star will have been visible in the night sky for some time. Usually somewhere around here, a vigorous low pressure system will bring strong winds. For southern hemisphere sailors, the weather systems now operate in the opposite directions requiring interpretation skills and unusual (to them) weather planning.

Japan lies not only in the fringe of the northern Westerlies, but it's weather is highly influenced by the continental land mass of Asia and Siberia particularly. In addition it has it's own version of the East-Australian Current termed the 'Kuroshio' which has to be negotiated carefully in order not to be swept away from Osaka.

Fortunately, the Japanese weather bureau produces excellent information and mapping to enable good decision making. Negotiating a crowded shipping route to Osaka Bay brings the final challenge of traversing an area filled with vessels of all kinds and differing shorelines unusual to first time visitors. Winds here can be strong but more usually very light and the finish is near a river mouth which after heavy rain can result in adverse currents requiring persistence and determination so close to finishing after so long at sea and so many obstacles.

The elation of accomplishment and the wonderful welcome at Hokko Yacht Club completes this 'Yachtsmans Melbourne to Osaka Race 2013
Zhik ZKG 660x82Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearInSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

Transat Québec Saint-Malo – Class40s sail into Saint-Malo
Twelve of the nineteen Class40s racing in the ninth edition of the Transat Québec Saint-Malo 2016 Transat Québec Saint-Malo - Twelve of the nineteen Class40s racing in the ninth edition of the Transat Québec Saint-Malo presented in collaboration with the City of Lévis are now safely moored at the Quai Duguay-Trouin wharf in Saint-Malo at the foot of the ramparts as the sun prepares to go down over the Corsair City.
Posted today at 3:09 am
LVACWS Portsmouth 2016 – standing room only.
There are no half measures where English weather is concerned. There are no half measures where English weather is concerned. Happily, that means that when it’s good it very, very good. Blue skies, sunshine, 23 deg C, clean air, and the whole place looks as if has put on a party frock and got lit up. Wonderful.
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series 2016 – More Day 1 images by Carlo Borlenghi
Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series 2016 – Race Day 1 images by Carlo Borlenghi
Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one Photographer Carlo Borlenghi has provided this gallery of images from race day one
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – Sir Ben jumps into the lead in Portsmouth
Hot, sunny conditions and thousands of fans lining the Portsmouth seafront was the backdrop to crowd-pleasing action. The home team, Land Rover BAR, led by skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, recovered from a poor first race result to win the second two contests and complete the day at the top of the leaderboard, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of cheering fans lining the shorefront.
Posted on 23 Jul
LV America's Cup World Series 2016 – Poised to pounce for Super Sunday
Oracle Team USA showed determination and fightback in claiming two second place finishes from the first two races Unfortunately, in the third race, the team was pushed right to the back of the pack and couldn't recover. The results leave the team on equal points for third place with SoftBank Team Japan, just three points behind the leaders, Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France.
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series 2016 – More action images by Ingrid Abery
Photographer Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images Photographer Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images
Posted on 23 Jul
America’s Cup World Series 2016 – Some action images by Ingrid Abery
Photographer Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images Photographer Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images
Posted on 23 Jul
Bumper action on Day 1 of Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series
Feedback from teams put this down to a tight start line, tidal influence and the constantly shifting breeze to the right Feedback from all of the teams put this down to a tight start line, tidal influence and the constantly shifting breeze to the right resulting in 'bumper car' action that kept spectators on their toes, wondering what was going to happen next.
Posted on 23 Jul
ORC World Championship 2016 – Final race action shots by Max Ranchi
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from final race Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from final race
Posted on 23 Jul