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*Weather outlook and the wind shifts*

The persistent shift I described yesterday is still forecast to happen in

all the weather models. Boats in classes 1-3 are presently east of

Aberdeen and have already seen the wind veer from SW to W and will see it

veer slowly from W to NW from 4pm this afternoon. The veer will continue

through the night and the wind will be N by 0700 Thursday. This will be

associated with a drop in wind strength to below 20 knots, which should

provide some respite for the crews. However this respite will be tempered

by having to sail close to the wind which will make it still feel very


Some weather models show the wind picking back up to 20 knots as the boats

reach MF on Thursday night but other models say the wind will stay down

around 15 knots. However all the models show the wind does another veer at

2200 on Thursday and goes round from 355 to 010. This would be a lift for

any boats approaching Muckle Flugga on starboard.

*Tactical decisions*

This looks set to make the rest of the leg up to Shetland into a beat with

some tricky tactical decisions. The navigators will be wondering how far

to go to “bang the corner” on the beat. Or whether to tack early from port

to starboard tack. They will wonder if that lift is going to materialise

on the way to Lamba Ness and Muckle Flugga. The persistent shift says

“bang the corner”. The prospective lift says tack earlier. Hmmm?

But banging the corner means going out on a limb a bit and tacking between

150 and 100 miles from the windward mark. Since the wind will not follow

the forecast precisely, this can be very risky. Dinghy sailors will

recognise this dilemma. I suspect skippers will use some caution so that

they do not find themselves overstanding the mark. It can be disheartening

to spend a long time sailing on tack that is not the making tack and is not

pointing the boat towards the windward mark, but equally boats do not want

to be on the wrong side of the shifts, it is a very difficult call to make.

On current projections class 2 boats will round Muckle Flugga around 0400 –

0500 on Friday. Class 1 will be a good few hours before and class 3 will

be behind that.

So for class 1 the lift on starboard may not happen for them. but they will

experience the wind veer to NW and on Wednesday afternoon.

For class 3 boats who will be later there are more issues to consider. The

wind is likely to start backing round to 345 from 1200 on Friday and the

wind is predicted to drop to 10 knots or lower during Friday afternoon

before picking up again and backing to W and then SW on Friday night.

*What will happen when boats get round the top?*

This suggests class 1-3 boats may well get another session of beating into

the wind at some point once they get around the top. (but hopefully this

will not last too long, we will see?)


Chris Radford



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