by John Gough
Melbourne Osaka Two Handed Race - A post from Joey: seemingly helpful advice to the other competitors?
Escapade at race start off Portsea on 17 Mar, Southern Cross in background - Melbourne Osaka Two Handed Race
Some Strategy Nonsense
Under normal circumstances, this rationale would have remained on board for a bit longer, but with no-one near enough to benefit from the blog info, we thought we could share it with you.
Before the race, I had spent some time looking at wind patterns. Especially the Oregon uni ocean wind record, 2000 - 2009. And how that data might have been influenced by ENSO variations during the recording period. And more especially how current ENSO status might vary the actual conditions from the historic average. Thank you Toby and William for guidance on ENSO. ENSO is currently neutral, or near enough so for our purposes. My conclusion was that winds in the area around and just north of the equator were more likely than the long term mean to be easterly in the area north of the Solomons, especially towards the east end. That meant that to get the minimum transition to the NE trades, go east. Of course a forecast, even at seven days, is better than a historical wind rose, but in the absence of a forecast, a wind rose is better than nothing. We have a file onboard that has wind roses up to 10 deg either side of the route, every three or four degrees all the way to Osaka.
That is one reason why we were very happy to have emerged from our beating of the first week in a position to fetch Lord Howe. And why we were happy to sail up the 160E line. All other things being equal, we might have gone completely east of the Solomons, and then stayed on north until into the trades. Three or four days ago, the forecast said the wind was going to drop out before the Solomons pretty much across the board, and so with no basis for a decision on how best to route, we continued north.
Then yesterday morning, the forecast situation over the next few days looked worse at 160 to 162E than at around 159. So we've turned 'left hand down a bit'. If this works out perfectly, then on Monday, we'll be just on the west side of a small weak clockwise circulation. And as a more uniform if very weak airflow comes in on Tuesday, we may be able to reach back towards the centre of the island chain, and subsequently pass through to head north. For a few days, easterlies are forecast across the region, and hopefully we could escape the doldrums with minimum pain.
One can but dream!
So we are aiming at a waypoint at 15.5S, 159E. And we'll re-analyse later this morning when we download a new grib file.
Meanwhile, we're running deep, wind 160 stbd, making 6kts in wind of 12-13, occasionally rolling and banging uncomfortably in light but crossing swells. Full main and 3/4 oz spinnaker. Sky clear. Sea temp 28.5.