What weather information can I legally use when racing offshore?

Steve Hayles answers...
Steve is most well known as an offshore navigator. He competed in 93-94 Whitbread Race as the youngest navigator in the history of the race, and since has been involved two other Round the World Races, most recently with the Volvo 60 Tyco as navigator. He started sailing professionally at the age of 15, after being thrown out of school, and has competed in the majority of offshore classics such as the Admiral's Cup, Fastnet, Sydney Hobart and transatlantic races. On land he is the Technical Director of Diverse Yacht Services. The company has developed products such as Racevision and supply electronic hardware and software to many of the top racing teams worldwide. Steve is currently working on developing a number of new products and software programmes in conjunction with partner companies and specific race boat projects. Iain Duthie asks: In this age of modern technology can you advise what information is legal to be used in offshore racing. i.e. weather information, which is now easily available from the internet and by mobile phone (voice, text or wap). Or are we still restricted to the old radio reports, vhf coast guard reports, etc. Iain, Thanks for your question on a subject that I think is very relevant in the modern day and, in particular, to offshore racing. My answer to you is quite long, that is because there is no one defined answer. It can be broken down into the following parts: - How data is transferred - Where the data comes from - The role of the Sailing Instructions for a particular race - Examples of different approaches by different race organisers - My view of what will happen in the future The advent of modern communication systems has meant that access to a wide variety of weather information from an even wider range of sources is readily available via relatively