All racing sailors must Understand The Elements And Plan Accordingly.
As a competing sailor, we must study the weather when planning to race and must know as much as we can about the wind, clouds, rain, currents and water temperature as is possible.
This knowledge can have a big effect on the outcome of a race and I must mention that even though the science of Meteorology has a place to play, it is too much to expect a meteorologist to guess what local wind and wave conditions will be for a particular day.
Weather forecasts are helpful in giving predicted wind strengths which will affect your sail selection and rig settings but you should always temper this with your observations both from the shore on race day and out on the course when racing.
It is important when racing to look ahead and develop an ability to see the velocity of the wind and set your sails and rig accordingly.
One way to calculate what the wind velocity will be is to look at the waves and ripples on the surface. and sunglasses will heighten the contrast.
Gusts and Clouds
Wind direction on the race course can have a high degree of predictability if you have done your homework but there are other things that you should keep in mind.
First, you must know how to handle a gust. Look at the band of wind as it is coming at you and work out which tack you should be on to take maximum advantage of the puff.
If you see some horizontal movement that shows the gust is moving from your right to left when you are on Starboard tack, plan on getting a lift and staying on the same tack.
If you see more wind to weather, you should consider tacking to get to the pressure sooner but the important thing is to go after the wind.
Stability is an important element in all wind shifts and early in each season, there is a significant difference in water and wind temperatures meaning that the horizontal flow of wind over water increases or decreases its speed by a dramatic amount.
With regard to clouds, sail towards them but note the movement, wind is stronger on the leading edge and sides but not so strong on the back edge.
A land mass can have an effect on the wind as much as 3 miles distance meaning local knowledge about an area is important, so study the geology of an area if you have not sailed there before.
If in doubt stay with the fleet and then use your own evaluation as to which side is paying.
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