Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hands On: Weather/Wind References, Part II

For the second installment in my look at books to help your "pump up" your wind/weather game, I'm going to take on the only other book that I feel is in the leauge of North U's "Weather for Sailors".


Other examples of pumping up: Reebok Pumps, a terrible Christian Slater movie & Hanz and Franz.

"Wind Strategy" by David Houghton and Fiona Campbell was kind of a surprise for me. I can't really explain why I expected less from the book when I first picked it up, but I'll certainly be chalking this one up on the ol' "My First Instincts Failed Me, Again" list. And yes, that's a pretty long list with a slew of epic failures in race strategy, women and cell phones (the Blackberry Storm sucks out loud).

First, a profile of the authors -- Houghton has over 30 years of forecasting for the Met Office (UK's version of NOAA, but with a better website) in addition to serving as a Coach/Adviser to Olympic, Admiral's Cup, America's Cup and Around the World racing teams. Campbell was the Met adviser to the British Olympic Team and the GBR America's Cup Challenge. So, much like the North U. book, these folks have forgotten more about wind strategy and weather than almost anyone you'll ever meet.

The target audience for this book appears to be your near-shore racers, making it a great reference for the majority of sailors out there. This book is a good bit shorter than "Weather for Sailors", so it's a little less descriptive and covers concepts in broader strokes. That's not necessarily a negative though -- this book does a great job flirting with the line of providing too much/not enough information for you to understand what's going on.

The book covers all the standard stuff, like gradient breezes, sea breezes, how land masses and the shore affect the wind, wave patterns, etc. I was pretty happy with the chapters dealing with the effects of the time of day (afternoon or as the sun goes down) on the wind. A nice chapter was also the one about how to form a wind strategy at a regatta, away from your "home water" comfort zone -- the book basically lays out a checklist of things to do.

Finally, they have some summary sheets at the end of the book that they encourage you to laminate and bring with you on the water; they're a nice touch and good for reference on the way out to the course, although I'm not sold on them necessarily being practical for between race use.

The book is well laid out -- there's little searching for important information as it relates directly to sailing. Concepts of weather and racing are tied together well and there is little extraneous information. The supporting images and diagrams are solid -- they're simple, numerous and tie things together well.

There aren't a lot of negatives to the book, as far as I'm concerned. If you're in the US, there are about 40 pages of venue notes at the end of the book that you'll never use (mostly European venues, I think Sydney was in there too). I guess if I'm going to keep comparing it to "Weather for Sailors", "Wind Strategy" falls short on some of the offshore weather elements. "Weather for Sailors" also delves into reading and understanding front maps in much greater detail, and provides a fuller understanding of meteorological concepts, if you're into that sort of thing. If not, there is a lot of information that you might not be into that you'll have to slog through -- that's not the case with "Wind Strategy".

I liked "Wind Strategy" -- it gels with the sailing that I'm doing (a lot of Chesapeake Bay and Coastal stuff) and wasn't all that difficult to get through. I'd definitely recommend it.

Overall Grade: A-

No comments:

Post a Comment