Barcelona World Race weather

Weather models failing to align for the opening days of the Barcelona World Race

Friday December 31st 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Torrential rain has perhaps given the Barcelona World Race fleet a taster of things to come as the 14 competing yachts set sail from the Port Vell this morning, prior to their 1300 CET start.

The Mediterranean looks set to provide its customary tactical challenge for the start and opening few days of the race. At yesterday evening’s weather briefing, meteorologists Marcel van Triest and Chris Bedford compared the European and American models, which show marked differences in their forecast.

On the European model a northwesterly breeze of 10-15 knots was forecast for the first few hours of the race, whereas very light airs are showing on the American GFS model. “The meteorological situation of the western Mediterranean at this moment is very atypical,” van Trieste, meteorologist of Barcelona World Race, commented.

Things are no clearer once they approach the Straits of Gibraltar, with a large low pressure system mid-Atlantic. Looking ahead, if the low pressure system tracks north it could pay for the skippers to hug the coast of Africa as they sail south, whereas if it moves south it could bring with it a south-westerly windshift which would see a more offshore route paying.

In either case, the waters between the Canary Islands and African coast may also feature local effects, with potentially strong sea breezes mid-afternoon as well as land breezes created by the low night-time temperatures of the desert.

Damian Foxall who won the first Barcelona World Race with Jean-Pierre Dick aboard Virbac-Paprec 2 looked ahead at the race: “It’s a long way. It’s three months at sea, and unlike the Vendée Globe you’re going to sea with somebody else. It’s not like the Volvo where you’ve got a larger group of people. You’re going to sea with one other person and that’s probably the most important aspect in terms of the race.

“On the one hand it’s the biggest attribute you’ve got, your buddy, your co-skipper. And it’s really important to make that relationship work well and to understand what they need, and to maintain a single objective in common that you both agree on and to basically cross the line having achieved that goal.

“For some it might be winning, for some it might be just finishing the race, but that common objective is probably the single most important thing that the skippers need to agree on before the start.

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