Ep 25: Weather, Forecasts & Routing

Ben sat down with Jon Bilger, the founding director of PredictWind, a weather app – well, more than a weather app. It helps sailors plan voyages and find weather windows. Ben also talked with Behan Gifford, Circumnavigator and cruising consultant. The three of them talked about Weather forecasting tools and the professional-level data that is available to all of us now, anywhere in the world.

About Behan:
Behan has made her home aboard a Stevens 47 for the last fifteen years, circumnavigating with her husband and three children. It’s given her meaningful experience with weather routing and predictions. The prospect of sailing offshore is intimidating for many: demystifying that, taking the mystery out and making it feel addressable, is addressed in the coaching service she and her husband have to help folks successfully cut the docklines.

About Jon:
Jon Bilger is the founding director of PredictWind, and a keen competitive yachtsman with achievements in Alinghi Weather as Team Manager, a winner of the Americas Cups in 2003 and 2007, and as the Alinghi Weather Team Manager for the 2010 Dog Match. Also competing in the 1992 in Barcelona grabbing a 7th place in the 470 class.

The Music:


It’s amazing how much more accessible information is, and that’s helped a lot of people go cruising. It’s made it easier to go cruising, but you also have to know how to use the tool. A lot of folks don’t spend enough time learning how to use the tool, and then blame the tool when things go badly. In the case of a weather forecasting tool like Predict Wind… user may end up blaming the tool for bad weather!

9 times out of 10, they weren’t actually reading the GRIBS correctly. Usually because they didn’t think about the fact that the wind forecast is not the ceiling of the wind level they’re going to experience. They didn’t spend that time to index and compare different models in advance, and figure out what’s the best in their region.

I think some of the worst weather we’ve ever seen has just been in the squalls. They may be short lived, but that, you know, they pack such a punch at 50 knots. You don’t get the big waves, but you get the wind that can just really knock it around. 

And it’s super dynamic. And that is caused by Cape, and I think Cape is not really well understood. Jamie tries to get people to think about Cape as squall food. If the Cape index high, that’s alot of squall food. Now look at rain predictions. then think about how these two datasets may be lining up with each other.