At Sail Port Stephens 2013, it’s Lay Day and it's fine and sunny, ahead there are three days of racing planned for the Elliott 7 Australian Championship, the NSW IRC titles, the Port Stephens Trophy series Performance Racing and Performance Cruising fleets. There is much anticipation with a high quality fleet assembled.
Closing on the mark - in company. NSW IRC Championship. Sail Port Stephens 2011
However in the Sail Port Stephens Race Office atop the d'Albora Marina building there has been much discussion over the last days of the three weather models that are now starting to converge for a nasty Friday forecast.
There is a classic East Coast Low forming which looks set to push southerly winds offshore into the mid to high 30´s and wave and swell combinations to 6-7 metres by Friday afternoon.
Race Committees approaches to heavy weather situations have changes over the last decades. With Duty of Care and oft heard phrase.
Back in 1999, this writer started in the Sydney to Gold coast race with 45 knots blowing, (we had spinnakers up in 40 knots), but just a few years later with a lesser Gale wind forecast the race was delayed for 48 hours.
SAILING - Sail Port Stephens 2010 - 16/04/10 ph. Andrea Francolini SECRET MEN's BUSINESS 1 - Sail Port Stephens
As Sail Port Stephens Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson explains, 'the Race Committee is monitoring weather situation very closely and will assess on Friday morning, with regular updates via SMS, website, noticeboard and the 9am daily briefing.`
'It’s certainly likely to be blowing Dogs off Chains - but we won’t make a decision until the morning, as the forecast are changing very rapidly. Right now Predict Wind and Sea Breeze are pointing towards 35 knots southerlies as early as 12 noon to 2pm.
'If there is a gale warning (33 knots plus) we certainly won’t go offshore. But there are more considerations a big swell may close the bar at lower wind speeds.
'One thing in our favour is that the incoming tide running until 1630 will tend to flatten the bar, but after than as the tide flows out, the bar could get decidedly ugly.
'In years past we have run IRC windward leewards inside Salamander Bay and we´ve been looking closely at course areas for that.'