What wind is coming?

As sailors the weather plays an important part in the decisions we make whenever we go afloat. From a coaches perspective are the conditions suitable? What can be achieved? Is it safe and fun? There is always experience to be gained from going sailing whatever the weather, however there are limitations.

For someone sailing as a hobby what are we hoping to do and where do we plan to go? Does the weather help or hinder us and therefore is it a suitable decision to go on that particular trip or better to wait?

There have been many occasions in my personal sailing time where the weather has taken a turn for the worst! It is knowing how to react to and recognize these sometimes sudden changes that make you a well rounded sailor. This can only be achieved by spending time on the water, observing cloud formations and approaching weather fronts. Knowing what to expect is key to staying safe and making sure your vessel is prepared.

A decision can be as simple as choosing to reef a sail for your dinghy in a club race or tuning your sail correctly for the conditions. Sail tuning is boat specific in many cases so it is worth checking your tuning guide! Another scenario could be that you end up delaying a passage on a yacht or larger vessel due to the weather forecast, are you going to end up punching into strong winds and high seas for the majority of your journey? Or will you wait until you have a favourable wind, making the journey smoother and faster. This will also depend on the ability of the crew and what your hoping to achieve.

A common weather pattern we see in Doha bay is a sea breeze. This is a very local effect and can often be specific to just a few miles of coastline. It occurs when the land is heated by the sun all morning until the warm air lifts from the land rising quickly. Helped by a gentle offshore wind the warm air travels out to sea, colder air from the sea rushes in to fill the space and that is when it gets windy! This air then warms and a conveyerbelt effect is started. It can go from zero knots up to a F4 in a matter of minutes usually late morning, lunchtime. Its fantastic to watch and you can look out towards Al-Safia island and watch it race in!

A good basic knowledge of wind direction and weather is key to progressing in sailing and if ever in doubt dont go out!

Coach oli.