St. Pete sailing conditions

All- I received an email asking what I knew re: sailing conditions in St. Pete. My views on what I've experienced there in March are as follows. Note: DISCLAIMER!! These views are for your reading pleasure only and should not be construed as anything more than rhetoric or myth (depending on your viewpoint [:)])!! Historical backround - The racing schedule for years in St. Pete was based on a morning and afternoon breeze. In the past it was common to have a 9:30am race in a cool northerly breeze in the morning before the pennisula would warm up. As it got closer to noon the land would heat and the northerly would die. Then we would tow in and have a civilized lunch and wait for the seabreeze to come over the pennisula from the Gulf of Mexico. As St. Pete and Tampa have become more commercially developed in the past 2 decades the land does not cool as much overnight which has made the early am northerlies less reliable. That said it is not uncommon in March for the northerlies to still exist (actually more northeasterly) especially if it has been a cool winter/spring season in Florida. Seabreeze (50% of the time)- The "final seabreeze direction is 260-270. The warmer and calmer it is in the morning the better chance the seabreeze will come earlier. In general the breeze will start near 200-210 at 5mph and start to build and go right. If you're waiting for the afternoon wind and breeze comes in at 210-220 don't get all excited. The RC will likely wait until it gets to 240 before starting a race. As the seabreeze builds it will swing towards 270 and build to 8-16 mph and may even tick up to 290 before settling back in near 270. The fleet will generally work right in this condition but after it settles look for some "lefties" as the wind settles back in near 260-270. It is not uncommon to arrive at the club for an am start and see the RC post a postponment with "L" flying and a notice stating "No signals will be made before X o'clock" (these guys running the races REALLY know the bay)!! It gives people a chance to explore in the mornings if there is no breeze without fear of "missing" a signal. No promises this will happen but it's not uncommon. Northeasterly (20% of the time, mostly mornings) - The NE breeze is the morning breeze. This is cold air dropping in from the north and is common in the morning before a later afternoon seabreeze. This breeze can provide some great sailing as it is usually a bit lumpy. The breeze can start out as high as mid-teens but...If a seabreeze is predicted then expect this breeze to be gone between 11am and noon. Hint: I've seen the breeze go right when it is about to die out of this direction [;)]. Northerly (15% of the time - COLD FRONT breeze)- This is the standard cold front breeze. North to Northwest and going Northeast. No formula for this breeze. Pay attention to the current and play the shifts. Usually an early starboard will get you closer to shore which may get you some left shift but usually we sail to far off to gain this benefit. This wind will be from 15-25mph will usually last 1 to1 1/2 days but may last longer if reinforced by a 2nd front. This condition is no different than any system breeze we had experienced at StABYC. No breeze (5% of the time) - Museums, ballgames, golf, Busch Gardens, Horse racing, dog track, swimming.. (You get the picture [:)] )!!! Anything else (10% of the time) - With the weather anything can happen. I've started a race in St. Pete in a Southeast breeze but don't ever recall finishing a race in a Southeast breeze there. I've sailed out in an Easterly as well but after a large % of the fleet dumped (it was blowing 20-25+ with big seas) we never got a race started. The big question... How much weight to sail with and how many?? My answer is find people whose company you enjoy, will have a good time with and want to hang out with. Make certain they're fun, looking for a good time and want to have a blast sailing in a new venue.. If you find those folks, whether it's 2 or 3 or 380# or 520# you'll have made the right choice because there is an above average chance that at some point during the week someone will say "It's never like this here"!!! Hope this helps and remember the DISCLAIMER!!! See you there!! Brian

Comments

Thanks, Brian, for the great insight to the new venue for Scots.

Thanks, Brian, for the great insight to the new venue for Scots. Wish I could be there this time to race my new Scot, but my work schedule does not allow it. Good luck to all and hope the weather is windy.