Saturday, August 09, 2014

Sailing in the Mistral

I know all of my friends going to the Laser Masters Worlds in Hyères in France this October are looking forward to sailing in the famous Mistral breezes. According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong...

The Mistral takes place each time there is an anticyclone, or area of high pressure, in the Bay of Biscay, and an area of low pressure around the Gulf of Genoa. When this happens, the flow of air between the high and low pressure areas draws in a current of cold air from the north which accelerates through the lower elevations between the foothills of the Alps and the Cevennes.

Wikipedia also has this map showing the force of the Mistral one day in November 2008.

And if you want to see what it is like to sail a small boat in the Mistral, here is a video of  Stu McNay and Graham Biehl in a 470 fighting the Mistral breezes to make it back into the harbor.


Keep Reaching said...

Some further info.

Windfinder says that on average, the wind in October at Hyères is 9 knots and that the probability of wind at Force 4 (11-16 knots) or above is 29%.

The actual data from October 2013 shows only the maximum gusts, but apparently there were some frisky days (the data is reported in km/h) with the record gust for the month at 44 knots.

The French Wikipedia article on Hyères says the record gust (in 1983) was 80 knots.

Tillerman said...

On average in October I have been 33 years old.

Bursledon Blogger said...

We were watching the afternoon breeze fill in to the west of Marseilles on wednesday, must have got up to top of F5 maybe a 6 and that was without the Mistral.

Pretty much sums up our experience of the med either the wind doesn't blow at all or it howls.

Damian said...

I've been lucky enough to spend a bit of time in the South of France over the last few years, and experienced the Mistral on a couple of occasions.

It really is extraordinary.

According the neighbours there it is known as the "vent de fous" ("the wind of the mad") because it blows relentlessly, night and day, for several days on end. It is very weird to be outside at night, with the weather warm, and a solid breeze blowing just the same as it was during the day.

Anyway, 500 Laser sailors and wind that drives you round the bend. Sounds perfect.

Anonymous said...

What would be a good number of rescue boats with so many on the course? And not all of them in Olympic shape.


Anonymous said...

There is a very good chance it will be a windy event. Every time I have gone there it has blown for a least part of the event.

Just go to warm tropical venues for the worlds. If you have the choice to sail in balmy weather and crystal clear water with afternoon sea breezes that arrive like clockwork why pay all that money to sail in places like Ireland, anywhere in Northern Europe, or the UK.

The sailors in those locations dont even want to sail there but they have no choice.

Tillerman said...

I think Bursledon Blogger may have it right. Here is the Weather Underground forecast for this week for Hyeres airport. The two numbers for each day are wind speed and gust speed at 2pm.

Wed 22 25
Thurs 26 32
Fri 21 25
Sat 20 23
Sun 3 5

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