I figured I might as well give my thoughts regarding the weather forecasts for the race this year. At this point, the only reliable forecasts I can really credit with speculation are for the first two legs.
From Islamorada, the boats have to travel North East to get around the gentle curve of the Florida Keys. As they get around North Key Largo – the land mass all of a sudden leaves their port side and sights of Miami’s skyline can be see off the port bow. This is also when you can start heading almost zero degrees due north if the wind allows it.
As the forecast models have been refined over the past week, the direction and the speed have expectedly changed. However the breeze has tacked to the ENE and increased in velocity to 15 to 20 knots for Monday. This could mean that the sailors might have to do some short tacking to fetch around the barrier islands. Once they get to Miami, they should not have to tack anymore – and it will be a race between the N20′s and and the F18′s as to who can carry their chutes the highest - again – for a second year in a row. I think even the F18′s would be hard pressed to carry their spinnakers that high and in that much wind. Comments are welcome to impart more F18 knowledge upon me.
Tuesday is about as typical beachcat reaching weather as you can get. Wind out of the East at 18 to 20 knots. The wave buildup will give swells from a meter and a half to two meters from the ENE so there might be an interesting launch out of Hollywood. The hotel we are launching from this year however, has more of a sand bar off the beach than the hotel of past years and could very well block a lot of the bigger swells from reaching the beach. Remember to watch it all on our Live Streaming page!
I can’t say that I’m altogether comfortable with two legs where there will be a lot of reaching. The boats are pretty highly loaded on a reach, specifically the rudders and rudder castings and if the skipper isn’t careful to keep his rudders clean of seagrass then he could find himself in a situation where the castings might fail. The venerable Todd Hart once broke a rudder casting on the leg from Hollywood to Jupiter in 2008 when he was sailing with Karl. After cursing the manufacturer of said part for many many hours – he imparted some wisdom to the me, which he is apt to do oftentimes. He said that you can’t push the boat to 100% of its performance 100% of the time. It will break. The good sailors know when to let the pedal off so the boat stays together. Broken boats are slow.