Cowes Week navigation tips part 2

Jim Saltonstall gives his views on the wind and tidal charactertistics of the central Solent area
Solent central - north Wind Direction 340-040 degrees: With the wind coming from the northern sector it is blowing over relatively low land. But it is still quite shifty and, as with any offshore wind, the closer you get to the land, the more unstable in both velocity and direction it becomes. It's important to get a fix on how big these shifts are on different areas of the race course. In lighter winds, the shifts can be as much as 20 degrees, maybe 10-15 in the mid-to-upper wind range. In contrast, up near the windward mark under the shoreline, the shifts in the light winds can be as much as 30-to-40 degrees, and in the mid-to-upper wind range 20 degrees. So get a feel for the numbers on the compass and the size of the oscillations. If the windward mark is within half a mile of the shore, look out for more lifts on port tack, during your final approach, as the wind veers to the right as it leaves the land to come onto the water. 040-110 degrees: As the wind is leaving the northern shoreline at a tangent, it normally pays to go left up the beat for the wind. The mainland shore has the convergent breeze. It should provide both more pressure and a starboard tack header as you approach the land, with the corresponding port tack lift as you sail away. 110-140 degrees: When the wind is in the south-east sector, it pays to go left up the beat for the wind, as there is definitely more pressure on the port side of the course due to the wind convergence. 140-220 degrees: The breeze is blowing off the Isle of Wight, and how steady it is will depend on how far you are away from the island. The River