Wind, tides, amendments and spectating

With the biggest ever Round the Island race this weekend, chances are there is a good percentage of offices on the South Coast with distracted staff this friday afternoon, furtively checking the weather and boning up on their Sailing Instructions in their lunch breaks. But it’s not just competitors that can enjoy the spectacle – spectators should have an excellent view of what promise to be some seriously challenging sailing conditions for the 1,908 entries.

Competitors should be aware that there is an amendment to the sailing instructions posted on the website, which concerns the exclusion zone off Seaview and an updated position for some white flats.

First, though, as you may have noticed, it’s a windy forecast. Richard Puddifoot, race metoerologist, sent this report last night: ‘A complex region of low pressure is still moving eastwards across the Atlantic. This

will split into 2 distinct features – the first of which will be the

important feature affecting wind strengths on Saturday. As

this low squeezes against the ridge to the south it will compress the

isobars over the country, creating stronger winds for the start of the

race on Saturday. A frontal system associated

with this low will likely bring some rain over the Solent during the

night and early hours of Saturday, but much of this should have cleared

through prior to the start.

The current expectation for race day is for SW’ly winds to quickly build during the early hours to 20 knots. Funnelling

and acceleration of these winds is likely in the Western Solent and

around exposed headlands like St Catherine’s Point.’ You can catch his updated briefings online.

 So most classes can expect 20knots, with gusts up to 30 in the Western Solent at their start time.

 Next, tides. You’ve probably studied the tide times and flow diagrams already, but if your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder this afternoon take a peek at www.tidetech.org/rtir. This is a new service, with new computer models based on half a million points around the island – and best of all, it’s free to all for the RTI weekend.

 Finally, if you’re planning on following the race from the comfort of a dry beach or armchair, the ISC publishes a useful guide for spectators. Hurst, St Catherines Point and Ventnor are likely to be the best viewpoints – especially St Cats, if you appreciate the skill involved in sailing in big winds and waves. IF you can’t drag yourself out of bed that early but have internet access, many yachts will be using their phones to send automatic progress updates, which you can view on the ngTrack Race Viewer, accessible on race day via the RTI website.

Good luck from all at PBO – we’ll see you on the water!