Predictwind, arguably the world leader in online wind forecasting, has been live for 3 years now, and it has been a huge success with rapid growth. Now the company is announcing an upgraded weather model.
The improved model went live on Thursday and you should notice some subtle improvements in wind forecast accuracy. Being always informed of any weather model improvements means you can evaluate the improvements for yourself!
You may also have noticed in the past that the website is continually being improved!
Here is a brief summary of the major feature enhancements.
• Android App - On your Android phone, go to the market place and search for PredictWind
• iPhone / iPad App - Multiple submissions and delays have changed the release date to July
• Mobile Text Forecasts/Observations - on your mobile go to www.predictwind.mobi
• Literally hundreds on enhancements in all areas of the forecast website. Keep the feedback coming - we are listening!
Custom Forecast Locations
• You can now set a custom forecast location anywhere in the world
• Where possible use a standard location, as has been carefully selected at the correct distance from the coastline.
Weather Routing and Trip Planning
• Ocean Currents - derived from Satellite data, and used in the routing calculations!
• Tidal Currents - model data from TideTech.org - coming very soon !!
• Improved comfort algorithm to avoid high wind/wave areas
• Adjust your boat´s Polars by a global % factor
• 'What if' scenario - adjust the wind speed of the forecast, or shift the forecast in time
• Various bug fixes
Check out the latest changes at http://forecast.predictwind.com
...................................... Significant Letter from reader: Sender: Richard Davison
I would like to contribute an article regarding the Predictwind software.
As a background to these comments, I am an active dinghy sailor, custodian of a classic timber yacht and serve on the sailing committee in a vibrant and progressive regional yacht club. Being an ex-commercial fisherman, and an active SES member both land based and as a rescue vessel skipper the weather - and particularly the predicting of it - has been a very important and long term interest of mine, and to this day something I cannot avoid paying attention to.
I have been in the most fortunate position to win a twelve month subscription to the Professional package of the Predictwind software, and have really grown to like this tool. It took only a short time to start having a play, and right from the start I found the results quite interesting. I find that when the subscription lapsed a day or two ago I really notice it, it certainly became a regular part of any outdoor, sailing and Emergency Services planning I undertook.
First up, this is a very powerful tool, and has a lot more going on under the bonnet than the (new and improved) interface suggests at first glance. There are a number of sections to the site, but I don't plan to simply replay the various intro screens to these as you can get that just by going to http://forecast.predictwind.com/ ,rather I want to address how this is worth the money for many groups, not just sailors.
Accuracy first - after all if the site is not able to provide reliable predictions it isn't worth a politician's promise. I found that like any weather service it is not infallible - but it is pretty good. Using this software I was often able to predict wind changes and extreme events literally within the hour at least 80% of the time, now to put that in perspective I was able to predict two big weather events locally that the local SES operations centre did not. Made me look pretty good and gave me great faith in the software.
Ease of use - for simple forecasting, very easy. For more advanced workings, such as the rather impressive routing and weather updates direct to your email at sea, you will need to put a bit of effort in and take the time to understand what the various parameters do. Other than the local winds and other weather data, I only played with the routing and a few of the other sections in a theoretical exercise. From the little I could see this allows the most advanced of navigators to really get to grips with a lot of information and It is clear that this is written by people who know what a sail powered boat needs.
The usefulness of this software in running local sailing can't be overstated. Having a good idea of likely wind shifts and calms can really make the RO's day a lot simpler, and with a lot of junior sailors on the water it is very important to have a bit of an idea about any nastiness that could develop. I found it a great benefit to be able to mostly get it right for myself, and also to be able to say with quiet conviction the most likely conditions we might expect on the course.
If I was still commercially fishing, I would subscribe to the professional package immediately - and if and when we finally do get our live-aboard cruising yacht instead of talking about it, I will do the same. I found a curious reluctance from a few people along the way to accept this as a good thing for a yacht club - however particularly if you are holding larger regattas it is certainly a handy tool for the PRO, helping greatly with likely courses to set before even getting onto the water. I cannot afford the full package this year as a lowly Heron sailor, but I can promise you - I already miss it greatly. There is so much more information available than the free version it is not funny. At the first chance, I'm subscribing again.
Thank you very much to the Predictwind team, for an excellent product that actually does what it says, and thank you in particular for the opportunity to experience this both for myself, and the Port Lincoln Yacht Club - in particular as an aid to junior sailing.
Because there is such depth to the software, I would only add that it does need the operator to get involved and set a few things up during the early stages, particularly with the course plotting section. This is not onerous, and generally very straight -forward. I am able to get similar info regarding rain bands, wind direction and strength forcasts etc. through my normal half a dozen or so sites - which I now find takes me that bit more effort to do, but the fine scale hourly localised forcast from predict wind is unmatched. I am really very impressed. I only found that part of it lacking in the remote areas, where the fine detail cannot be generated due to the limited real time source info.