Predicting the Wind

Jon Bilger (left) developer of PredictWind with other Alinghi weather team members, Jack Katzfey and Arnaud Monges in Valencia
Ivo Rovira /Alinghi

The decision, early Saturday morning, to postpone the opening race in New Zealand's popular B&G SIMRAD Two Handed Triple Series, was probably initially greeted a few quizzical thoughts by competitors.

By the time most were waking up and thinking of what lay ahead the wind had dropped and for a time Auckland's Waitemata Harbour was almost glassy.

However the predictions of strong and squally winds proved correct, accompanied with frequent hail and rain, temperatures around 6-7 degrees and very rare snowfalls on the southern Coromandel and Kaimai ranges to the south east of the race area.

From our observations, winds peaked at over 50 knots in the race area, and the decision, even when considered in the High Court of Hindsight, was correct and a very good one by the organisers.

Organisers were helped in their decision by forecasts from the NZ Met Services and by a new wind prediction system by!PredictWind.Com

This service is the brainchild of Jon Bilger, a top NZ youth and Olympic sailor who turned his hand to wind and weather prediction, and helped Alinghi to their outstanding victories in the last two America's Cups.

Now that same technology is available to the weekend sailing and club racers, the cruising fraternity or professional sailors around the world. Select any region in the world of interest to you and PredictWind will monitor the area for you and provide updated predictions on demand.

It is a subscription system, with a number of options. While some may feel the wind is free, the ability to get a five day detailed wind forecast for an area of interest creates great peace of mind, allowing forward planning and decision making to be made with some certainty. The time and money saved through being able to work with a high degree of confidence, is more than offset by the relatively small cost of the subscription.

But have a free five day trial, and see for yourself.

Certainly the weather situation that occurred on Saturday was on PredictWind last Tuesday, and was accurate on strength and direction and timing. Others who have used the system at sea report similar experiences including the accuracy of predicted wave heights. The readouts are very simple, both in text or graphical options, and there is a short three minute video to walk the first time user through the PredictWind application.

Currently we are tracking the weather off Takapuna and Qingdao, and you can see some of the graphical output from PredictWind by!clicking_here