David Houghton

madforsailing.com talks to Team GBR's top meteorologist
mfs - What does a meteorologist do within Team GB? DH - I’m basically a meteorologist but also a coach. The sailors use the wind and I help them understand it. People call me a forecaster but the local forecasters should be able to do most of the forecasting job. However, if they’re not sailors then they won't really understand what the sailors need to know, especially in terms of whether the wind will shift to the right or left, will it increase or decrease. In some classes you have very significant limits on the wind speed before you have to change your rig, and so on. mfs - So, do you use the information from the local forecaster and interpret it for Team GB? DH - I use the basic information that is available, from whatever source and decide what is relevant and what is not. But my job starts before that, before the Olympics and throughout the Games, where I will train the team to understand the data. I really have to meet the team early in the Olympic cycle and establish a rapport with each team member. My job is 50% teacher or coach. A forecast, well people will say that it’s never right, or some people may have real confidence in their forecasts and say that it’s always right, but the wind that’s forecast is not the only consideration. The major consideration here, in a place like Sydney Harbour is how does the wind interact with the land-sea interface. There are certain features about the land and the sea, and the behaviour of the wind when it blows from land-to-sea, or sea-to-land, is consistent when the wind is in a particular direction in relation to the coast. So coastal meteorology is a fact, and something that the