SA’er “DryArmour” checks in from his weather lab at the start of the normally docile NOSA 2014 Newport to Ensenada with this monster forecast. Stay safe, people!
Good Friday morning to everyone from the WxRouting weather center. The 66th annual Newport to Ensenada Yacht race kicks off today around noon off the Balboa Pier off Newport Beach, CA. A late season storm is dropping southward and a GALE WARNING* has now been posted for the inner waters and includes part of the race course. This warning may be extended southward as winds and seas build. A 50% chance of rain is also in the forecast so the challenges will be many for the racers. For Saturday morning through Saturday afternoon there is a chance of thunderstorms over the coastal waters.
At 0300 PDT, winds in the coastal waters of the northern channel islands are in the 29 knot sustained range and gusting into the mid 30s. The wave heights are already 8.5 feet with a very short period of just 9 seconds. A southerly swell at four feel will add to the washing machine effect.
At this time I will make the recommendation that racers unprepared for these conditions or vessels not thoroughly outfitted consider your options carefully with regard to sailing the course. Safe ports of harbor along the way should also be thoroughly inspected and charts consulted in advance of departure so that you are familiar with fairways and range markers should seeking refuge from the potentially hazardous conditions become a good idea in the team’s estimation. Remember that it is the skipper and crew’s sole responsibility to determine whether it is safe to race at the start and at any time while on the race course.
As Dirty Harry told us, A good man (or woman) knows their limitations. But in a sport where we’ve seen far too many tragedies over the past few years, it applies in spades today. For race teams and vessels who are prepared, this may be an epic race – one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ heavy-air run that many of us cherish from our past, precisely because they are so few and far between…but the utmost care needs to be given with regard to safety. Jacklines run and tested. Harnesses inspected and WORN with PFDs included. MOB/COB drills. Safety briefings and all crew given the chance to speak their mind prior to finding themselves in a situation they are unprepared for.
The biggest challenge for the N2E could be returning home, so plan accordingly. Winds and seas remain a big concern right through Sunday, and care and prudence should be used in abundance when choosing a day and time to return to port here in the states.
Be safe everyone and many thanks to those of you who have selected WxRouting race forecasting to make your voyage as fast and safe as possible. For those of you who have purchased the race forecast package the details will lag by about 15 minutes today as there is a lot of data coming in and I feel it more important to get the forecast right than to get it to you 15 minutes earlier.
DISCLAIMER- WEATHER FORECASTING IS AN INEXACT SCIENCE. CONDITIONS MAY NOT MATERIALIZE AS FORECAST BUT THE PRUDENT MARINER UNDERSTANDS THAT THE CONDITIONS MAY ALSO EXCEED THE PROJECTED WINDS AND SEAS BY AS MUCH AS 20-50%. BE SAFE, MAKE GOOD CHOICES PEOPLE.