Marine services for offshore yacht races

Every day, the Bureau of Meteorology's routine marine and ocean service provides critical wind,
wave and ocean information that will assist racing yachts plan for a safe journey.

Between Boxing Day and New Year's Day, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race is watched by many Australians and interested yachties around the globe.

Also in this period, the Melbourne-to-Hobart (east and west coast), Melbourne-to-Launceston, Pittwater-to-Coffs Harbour and Launceston-to-Hobart races are run.

The weather is a critical factor that affects every boat, every minute and thus every result.

This article is like a 'time line' of what a potential competitor (or armchair enthusiast interested in a race) may see.

Planning for race start

The Bureau of Meteorology's routine Coastal Waters Forecast provides advance notice of the conditions expected during the races. On the morning of a race, you can review the weather forecast and latest observations to refine 'your' weather strategy.

The Marine and Ocean website provides a wealth of information including detailed warnings, forecasts and wind observations.

For the all important race start, check the appropriate Marine forecasts.

MetEye gives a more detailed look at the waters adjacent to Sydney Harbour.

The long journey

For broad scale weather patterns over the race duration, the Interactive weather and wave maps will give the forecast location of weather systems and associated wind speeds and directions.

Swell and wind wave heights are available from the dropdown menus.

Most yachts try to use favourable ocean currents, and many competitors will be viewing the Ocean current forecast maps.

Select your area of interest from the map and then select 'Sea Levels and Currents'. If you play the loop you will see the forecast of the ocean current extending up to seven days.

Our MarineLite web pages provide text only marine wind warnings to help sailors remain aware of the possibility of approaching adverse weather conditions.

The finish

The wind conditions can be heavily influenced by the mainland, so knowing the latest weather observations near the finish line is a must for competing yachts trying to gain an advantage.

Heading for the finish line, the Tidal predictions will indicate if the tide might be a factor. An outgoing tide may slow the boats down and cause any wind waves to become steeper, whilst an incoming tide may assist the boats.

The race can be won or lost on the fickle last stages. MetEye provides Wind, Wave and Weather forecasts that are valuable for local knowledge.

Stay informed on Wind Warnings

Weather forecasts are not 'set in stone' and do change. You will need to monitor the weather forecasts for your entire route not just the next day. Remember the Bureau of Meteorology issues wind warnings covering today and tomorrow although usually these conditions are stated on the forecast three or four days ahead of time.

Discover more information on marine wind warnings here

Accessing weather information whilst on the water

Many of the Bureau's marine services are available on VHF and HF radio, and via satellite communications. Forecasts and warnings are updated regularly throughout the day, ensuring mariners stay informed on the latest information.