Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Kids range

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
Wildwind 2016 660x82Mackay BoatsSouthern Spars - 100

Related Articles

World Cup Series in Hyères – Racing needs to be fast, not the food
Spanish sisters, Carla and Marta Munté Carrasco, sail together in the 49erFX and know they have a problem. Many sailors will be brimming with confidence after browsing the weather forecast and will be striving for gold in Hyères. But it is a team small in stature that know exactly where they stand in terms of performance that intrigues.
Posted today at 4:40 pm
New addition to North Sail for Volvo Ocean 65 racing machines
Their sails have powered eight out of nine Volvo Ocean Race winners since 1989-90, with Steinlager 2. Instead of assembling cloth panels into a particular sail shape, the Volvo Ocean Race sails are composites. This means that 3Di material 'tapes' are laid in a specific arrangement, offering stable structure to the sail where it is needed most.
Posted today at 2:02 pm
Experience is key as Team Oman Air prepare for Extreme Sailing Series
Team Oman Air skipper Phil Robertson says his crew's unrivalled experience could prove vital to victory in second round Known worldwide for hosting sailing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Qingdao is notorious for its ability to catch crews off guard with a fickle breeze that can go from next to nothing to gale force in a matter of minutes.
Posted today at 10:31 am
FAST40+ Spring Regatta - Preview
The second event in a busy FAST40+ season will be the FAST40+ Spring Regatta, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The second event in a busy FAST40+ season will be the FAST40+ Spring Regatta, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club. FAST40+ Race Director, Stuart Childerley, sets the scene for the event.
Posted today at 8:38 am
Meet the Clipper 2017-18 Race crew Zuzana Vybiralova
A first for Clipper Race, Zuzana Vybiralova will make history this year as first Czech Republican to take part in race A first for the Clipper Race, crew member Zuzana Vybiralova will make history this year as the first Czech Republican to take part in the race in eleven editions.
Posted today at 8:01 am
Melges 24 European Sailing Series - And the winners are…
Maximum number of races sailed in almost perfect conditions was a result of three-day Portoroz Melges 24 Regatta Maximum number of races sailed in almost perfect conditions was a result of three-day Portoroz Melges 24 Regatta - the season opener both for the 2017 Melges 24 European Sailing Series and Melges 24 Italian Sailing Series. Andrea Racchelli and his team on Altea ITA722, the winner of the 2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series, were showing their superiority since the beginning of the regatta
Posted today at 5:43 am
Champions crowned after tricky finale at Sperry Charleston Race Week
Charleston is known for its reliable spring seabreeze, but the Holy City’s coast outdid itself this year Charleston is known for its reliable spring seabreeze, but the Holy City’s coast outdid itself this year during the 22nd edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week. It wasn’t just the three race days either; from the first team’s arrival for practice more than a week earlier until the lengthy awards ceremony on Sunday night, reliable southerly winds buffeted the region, ensuring maximum racing
Posted today at 4:27 am
She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the most paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the most paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish...
Posted today at 1:08 am
Wild Day 2 at Sperry Charleston Race Week
For a second day, Charleston Harbor and open ocean just offshore provided near-perfect conditions for over 200 teams For a second straight day, Charleston Harbor and the open ocean just offshore provided near-perfect conditions for over 200 competing teams at Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017. Boats across all six courses faced brisk southerly winds of 15-20 knots, while the offshore boats saw five-foot waves and big gusts on the second day of the biggest multiclass keelboat regatta in the Americas.
Posted on 23 Apr
The Vendée Globe skippers hosted at the Elysée Palace
The Elysée Palace yesterday hosted a grand ceremony where the Head of State honoured the heroes of offshore racing. The Elysée Palace yesterday hosted a grand ceremony where the Head of State honoured the heroes of offshore racing. Twenty-three of the twenty-nine Vendée Globe skippers attended the event, gathering around winner Armel Le Cléac’h, appointed Knight of the Legion of Honour.
Posted on 22 Apr