sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : With tons of weather info, how do Vendee skippers make sense of it?
With tons of weather info, how do Vendee skippers make sense of it?

'O Canada sailing in the 2011 Transpac'    John Curtis
I am a great believer in keeping things as simple as possible. In our modern information age, this is not an easy thing to do. Even alone out at sea, the Vendee Globe skippers are being bombarded with information. I hope for their sakes they are also experiencing that wonderful mind calming effect of being at sea.

It's a rare and magical thing to have one's mind clear of clutter. I recall day four of the 2011 Transpac Ocean Race aboard the Open 60 O Canada, when I suddenly noticed that all the thought noise in my head had stopped. I was on deck between watches. It was morning and the sun had finally broken through the clouds. I had a camera in my hand because we were making a film about the race and I described the feeling to the camera while filming the water rush past the deck. It was magical. My thoughts were ordered and deliberate. There were no interruptions. Finishing a thought was easy and my perceptions felt clear and free of doubt. I would love to find that place again. Here is a link to the film that should be available soon. You can watch the trailers for the two films about this adventure. They are called The California Campaign and The Transpac.







I'm sure many of the Vendee skippers are having their doubts about their ability to predict what will happen next with the weather but there is some simple logic that they should be trying to follow.

Essentially they have two ways to make progress. They can go for speed or try to sail the shortest route to the next way point. A way point is sometimes a mark, tip of a continent, an ice gate and sometimes an imaginary point that gets them to where they think they need to be at a certain point in the race. If you race small boats think of a way point like a mark of the race.

The thing that is most noticeable about these fast boats is the extent to which extra speed can compensate for sailing extra distance. This usually means that finding more wind is the primary concern and they will be willing to go surprisingly far out of their way to get to that stronger wind. Anyone who sails catamarans will know what I am talking about.

They also have to factor in points of sail. No one wants to sail a close hauled course in heavy weather and big seas. Reaching or running is much faster in big wind so they are aiming to be reaching or running in the big stuff.

When the wind is light, it is usually better to sail angles that are closer to the wind (close hauled or close reach). This is because the apparent wind is stronger in light winds if you are travelling in a direction that is close to being the opposite direction from the true wind. The True wind and boat wind add to create apparent wind. (its high school geometry at work in the real world and it is more elegant and wonderful than they ever taught us in school).

This changes when the wind reaches a velocity where the boat can generate more apparent wind on broader angles. in an Open 60 this is about 6-8 knots of true wind. In six knots of true wind sailing about 20 degrees off a close hauled course with the full main and a Code 0 (ginormous jib flown off the bow sprit) the boat will do about 10-12 knots depending on the sea state. 10-12 knots over the bottom in six knots of wind. Sounds like cheating mother nature and it feels like that to. It's awesome!

The other thing is that there will be times in the race where there is no escape from the light wind. The St. Helena that the fleet just went through is usually such a spot. In that situation they want to enter areas of light wind from a position that will allow them to sail through it on points of sail that are closer to the wind and also heading in the right direction to clear the light air as soon as possible as well as trying to travel in the right direction or as close to aiming at the next way point as possible.

The skippers will use computers to help them do these calculations. There is sophisticated software such as Expedition that will have the boats 'polars' programmed into the computer. The polars are the theoretical speeds that the boat can sail at a given wind strength and point of sail. The computers generate several options for the skippers to optimize their velocity toward the next way point (VMG or velocity made good toward the destination).

It's actually a little more complicated than this because the distance are enormous so skippers will set intermediate way points between the bigger goals they have of rounding the tips of continents and ice gates. There is a skill involved in breaking up each part of the race into smaller parts and racing between these points, but the big picture is generally to sail in more wind at an angle that allows the boat to maximize speed and when the wind is going to get light set yourself up to be able to sail closer angles in the lighter wind but headed in a direction as close as possible to the next mark. It's always a balancing act between speed and aiming as close as possible at the destination.

If there is one simple rule to follow it would be 'speed is king'. Get to the stronger wind and sail broader angles in the strong stuff and when you have no choice but to sail in lighter wind you attempt to set yourself up in advance to sail tighter angles as close to the rhumbline (straight line course to next mark or way point) as possible.

Clear as mud right?

At least I hope their minds have cleared the clutter of modern living - an experience I highly recommend.

Stay tuned as the fleet starts their wild rides in the Southern Ocean.

http://www.windathletes.ca/


by John Curtis

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=104537

7:24 PM Sat 8 Dec 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World





AWT Quatro Desert Showdown at Punta San Carlos by American Windsurfing Tour,


























America's Cup: Rod Davis - Time for a change after ten years with team *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,








Maxi yacht rendezvous this September in Sardinia by International Maxi Association,




















America's Cup: Team NZ wish Davis well with new team *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-world.com/nz,


Fisher's View: Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3 by Bob Fisher, Hamilton Island, Queensland




2014 Formula Kite World Championship Day 1 by Markus Schwendtner, Istanbul


IFDS World Championship - Day 1 images by Jude Robertson
Volvo Ocean Race: Forget the f-word - Team SCA profiled
52 Super Series - Fleet grows, 2015 dates revealed
420 and 470 Junior Europeans - Teams from 9 nations on the podium
IFDS Worlds - Former president presented with ISAF awards medal
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Improvements aplenty in Byte CII fleets
America's Cup: New Zealand loses top coach to Artemis Racing
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 CEO Knut Frostad talks (Part I) *Feature
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Day 9 - Swish on record pace
2014 CORK Olympic Classes Regatta - Day 3
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games - Day 2
2014 IFDS World Championship: Opening Ceremony images
Opera House Cup - Images by Ingrid Abery
Teams descend upon Cowes for inaugural J/111 World Championships
Hamilton Island Race Week: Everywhere there's smiley people
IFDS World Championships - US Paralympic hopefuls ready for racing
Sopot Match Race - Poland's Tour debut deemed a triumph
Vineyard Race celebrates 80th running of the East Coast classic
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games: Young sailors begin racing on Lake Jinniu
AWT Quatro Desert Showdown - Victory for Morgan Noireaux
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Day 8: Test of endurance   
Bart's Bash: Over 2300 entered from 588 yacht clubs - Join here   
Halifax ready to welcome the world at 2014 IFDS World Championships   
RC44 World Championship title to Bronenosec + Video   
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week: Day 2 Images by Crosbie Lorimer   
IFDS Worlds - Gary Jobson to attend opening ceremonies   
Melges 32 U.S. National Championship - Dalton DeVos crowned champion   
2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games trailer   
2014 Chicago Grand Slam - Canfield wins   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Varuna takes overall lead   
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week; Crosbie Lorimer Day 1 Images   
Fisher's View: Hamilton Island Race Week - Day 1 - Stayin' Alive   
CORK Olympic Classes Regatta 2014 - Day one   
Youth Olympics: practice over, athletes welcomed, time for YOG sailing   
Round Britain and Ireland Race - Record for Artemis-Team Endeavour   
2014 Melges 32 U.S. National Championship - Day 2   
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland: Artemis sets fourth course record   
2014 Chicago Grand Slam - Top seeds survive as semi-finalists   
420 and 470 Junior Europeans - Breezy day 4 in Gdynia   
RC44 World Championship - Dramatic improvement for Artemis Racing   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT