Wind / Weather
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WIND AND WEATHER

There are many excellent sources for finding out about local and regional wind and weather conditions. Check out your local weather before you go out. Even then, it is best to remain watchful for sudden weather changes and when in doubt, chill out (off the water) til storm passes. In 2006, at TWC we had a sudden hailstorm come by, which covered the ground in white, and also covered the windsurfers who didn't make it in before the hail started. Hail is one thing, but lightning is even less windsurfer friendly.

Cold Weather Windsurfing

Exerpt from article at www.boards.co.uk

Winter windsurfing can offer some of the greatest rewards, but also poses many more risks than summer sailing. In this article we discuss all the safety implications.

There's no reason to stop windsurfing during the winter - just because it's colder doesn't mean that you can't be out there enjoying yourself. Indeed, for the proficient coastal sailor this is the time of decent strong winds and serious waves, which simply shouldn't be going to waste! But even for the less experienced sailor, providing you have the right equipment and take the safety issues seriously, there is still plenty of fun to be had through the winter months. Winter sailing is a 'different vibe', at the end of a good session you retire gratefully to the warmth of the pub or cafe and feel that great glow of satisfaction, almost as though you had cheated Mother Nature. Some of the best ever sailing sessions happen in the winter.

However, there's no question that you are pitting yourself against a much more hostile environment. The obvious big issue is simply the temperature; cold water and inclement air temperatures soon whip away your body heat, and if that process is allowed to continue unchecked, you’ll get hypothermia and die - simple as that. However, there are also slightly less initially obvious safety issues to consider. If something goes wrong in the winter then there are less people on the shore (and on the water) who might notice if you're in trouble. There is also less daylight, a kit breakage towards the end of an afternoon sail might see you still out there as dusk falls, and suddenly you're in a much more dangerous situation. The weather can also be more changeable and unpredictable in the winter, and of course it can also be more extreme. On top of all this is the fact that the sea itself is more brutal in the winter. As discussed in an article last year, as its temperature drops, the water becomes more viscous. In simplest terms, it packs a harder punch. You get knocked about more by the chop, and waves do more damage

Check out site below for links that cover the points listed above in more detail:
http://www.boards.co.uk/articles/index.asp?ID_A=101&article_type=1

Lightning

Exerpt from Bluefinz article
by Goh Thye Hock

Storms bring the wind we crave, but they also bring lightning. The many fears that mother nature's awesome power can unleash upon us are quickly forgotten as windsurfers rush out to get wind before an oncoming thunderstorm or squall. This herd behaviour creates further dangers when novice sailors witness this and follow likewise, throwing caution literally to the winds. In this mad rush the six basic common sense safety rules for windsurfers are forgotten:

  • Check your equipment / ability before sailing
  • Inform someone where or when you'll be back
  • Don't sail in off shore wind
  • Don't sail in a thunderstorm
  • Sail in the company of others
  • Don't sail in the dark

The sign of an approaching storm sends everyone rushing out and past incidents and near misses tend to be brushed off. In our climate lightning can strike way ahead of the storm front as I personally found out. One bright sunny day, while sailing off the Singapore Tennis Centre, I was approaching a yacht at anchor. I started to feel a prickling sensation on both my hands and feet and then saw sparks and smoke coming off the top of the yacht's mast. This near miss caused me a burn on my wrist from my wristwatch, small reminder of the power inherent in lightning strikes.

More about lightning can be found at:
http://www.bluefinz.com/jm/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=10001