Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heat lows, light winds and tricky Hyeres conditions

It has been a very tricky week here in Hyeres not just for the sailors but also for me as a forecaster. As a venue it is probably one the hardest to forecast for and for the sailors to interpret. It is often said that no two days are the same but here that can really seem like the case - just when you think you have sussed it you haven't.

This morning we were greeted to a beautiful mill pond and an outlook for the day that didn't look promising with generally less than 06 KT from the E and possibly even some showers.
By 1000 the wind had filled in and then built to a peak of 10-12 KT on some courses, not quite what was planned but considerably better. This allowed the racing to be completed in some reasonable conditions ahead of the final medal race tomorrow. I am sure many were please about this as some races drifted to a close yesterday in <05 KT with wind direction varying for 090-170.

Why is Hyeres so testing? Predominantly it is due to its location, rather than a nice piece of straight coastline which makes sea breeze development relatively simple it is complicated by the Peninsula and the islands offshore.
Coupled with that the region to the NW of the area heats up very quickly and create a low pressure system- commonly called a 'heat low', an example below. This effects the gradient wind which drives the surface conditions. Here in Hyeres it acts to enhance E to ESE conditions but in the process makes for often unstable conditions until established.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bonjour- Happy Easter

I departed the UK on Good Friday to arrive on the South coast of France at Hyeres to cold and cloudy and now torrential rain conditions! That rarity of a lovely Bank Holiday for Great Britain and I am sadly missing out - enjoy people

I am currently out in Hyeres for another in series of  ISAF World Cup Olympic Classes Sailing Regattas supporting Skandia Team GBR in the 13 month build up to the Olympic Games
Racing starts tomorrow and today we are seeing the end of some very strong E winds (made for an interesting landing) and some fairly heavy rain that has limited peoples training programmes

Conditions are looking like they will be gradient driven (no thermal influence) for the first couple of days as temperatures attempt to recover and build into the end of weak. Initially moderate E conditions will steadily decrease through the week resulting in sea breeze developments.

Hyeres as a venue is a fairly tricky for sea breeze developments as you can see from the surrounding land causing issues in the quadrant developments. It essentially results in two separate sea breeze developments, a local sea breeze form ESE and the dominant WSW sea breeze that moves in over the peninsula

You can check out the event website for the results

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Olympic Classes European racing scene is underway........results at

It has been an interesting and very busy few days for me, including an long trip down in the ‘fun bus' ,  but I got here and set up in sunny Palma, Mallorca, ahead of the first of five major Olympic classes regattas to held across Europe. Over the coming 4 months some if not all of the Skandia Team GBR British Sailing Team will travel first to Palma, where I am currently, then to Hyeres, in the south of France, Medemblik in the Netherlands, Weymouth for Sail for Gold back in the UK and then potentially Kiel, in Germany.

Since February many of the team have already been out in Palma, including myself, for some ‘warm weather’ training- especially given the UK temperatures this year. This is so the sailors can maximise their training with slightly longer daylight hours and considerably warmer sea temperatures- only dropping down to 12 Celsius as opposed to the incredibly low 4.5 Celsius recorded in the Solent this year. 
The added benefit as always is getting to know the venue more, experiencing different wind and sea conditions. Palma is classically thought of as a sea breeze venue but over the last few years we have experienced more gradient  driven conditions including a some serious thunderstorms and even a funnel cloud (picture to follow)

Typically a light wind venue and small sea state, you can easily be caught out by the shallow low pressure systems providing gale force winds and massive sea states.