What a difference a day will make. Today in the Straits is a very nice, light westerly of 5-10-knots with the air temp at 55⁰F. By this time tomorrow, it will be a very different scenario. As you can see from the surface charts we definitely have a front coming towards us and the only question will be when will it pass over the race course. Which right now is projected to be between 1000hrs and 1300hrs. If you’re a fast boat and can make it across to Victoria before 1000hrs that will be a great thing because the post frontal breeze in the Straits is going to make that crossing nothing to take lightly.
From a tidal current perspective, this is just about perfect with a moderate ebb really starting roll around 0400 hrs at Pt. Wilson. With the start at 0500 hrs, all Teams should be well on their way into the Straits with the next slack at 1025. The other good news is that the pre-frontal breeze will be southeasterly at Pt Townsend and will be in the 10-15 knots range. By mid-Straits at 0700-0900 you could have 15-25 knots from the southeast.
If you’re wearing your Garmin Quatix watch, at around 0900 start watching the barometric pressure to be bottoming out. The wind will drop and start to get flukey while the puffs start coming in from the west. If you’re in the mid-Straits or near the ½ way point, that will be your signal to batten down the hatches because it’s about to get gnarley.
How gnarly? By 1200 hours you could be in 25-30 knots of westerly and in the middle of the Straits there is nowhere to hide. This breeze will start to back off around 2000 hrs becoming 15 knots from the west by 2300 hours and then just sort of go away by 0200 hours Friday morning. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be out there on a paddleboard or small rowboat when the westerly first fills down the Straits, so plan accordingly.
By that I mean if you are making 5-knots or less, think about the going the great circle route inside of Protection Island and up behind Dungeness Spit and then wait for the breeze to drop before you go across. Remember also that with this breeze the wind chill will be in the upper 30’s and low 40’s so don’t ignore the possibility of hypothermia.
Travel safely and have a great race.
Click on the images to enlarge.