Specialist sailing weather forecaster Mike Broughton of winningwind.com says tomorrow's Round Ireland Race will be a tough and challenging one
‘Looks like we have light sea breezes for the start in fine and sunny conditions – but it’s all going to change.
For start time we have a ridge of high pressure over Wicklow bringing a light sea breeze that will veer to south westerly winds increasing 12-17 knots by early evening, giving a beat south towards Tuskar Rock. Then we have unsettled conditions from midnight as the first of possibly seven fronts to pass the fleet over the next four days. The first warm front will bring light rain and SW winds of 9-15 knots – still giving a beat along the south coast.
By Sunday afternoon, we have a complex, mid Atlantic low pressure system that will dominate the weather from Sunday to Tuesday, bringing several fronts, with rain and winds to gale force mainly from the south west to west-south-west. It looks like a tough and challenging beat on Sunday afternoon/evening around the Fastnet area, particularly for the smaller boats. We can expect winds to 40 knots and seas 3.5 to 4.0 metres.
The low pressure looks to deepen through Sunday and by midnight is forecast to be 300 miles south of Iceland and will then start to slowly fill. Leaving most of the fleet in WSW winds along the west coast on Monday morning, giving fast reaching conditions north, still in waves around 3.5 metres. Winds for Monday afternoon to Tuesday evening still look to be strong (mainly 24-34 knots) from the WSW and giving fast broad reaching conditions across the north coast. Whilst winds on the NE coast will be lighter in the lee of the mainland. Winds east of Dublin will be down to 10 knots by Thursday – mainly from WSW to SW.
Overall, it looks like a tough and challenging race, with plenty of opportunities to make gains from the predictable shifts from passing fronts. Rough seas close to the Fastnet and all along the west coast.
Best of luck to my many friends out there doing the race – it will be one to remember!