BY: Alan Watts
WORDS ? Rob Darling
Imagine if the big letters above had been Instant Wind Generation - Mr Watts would have long since bought his million dollar yacht. Instead, we have the next best thing. If you can't generate it, at least know when it's going to happen and when it will change.This book is a companion to Instant Weather Forecasting by the same author that was reviewed in Issue #29. Published in the same format, all the comments regarding the author, his background and the style of the book are the same for IWF. Running to 112 pages, it is nearly twice as long and more in-depth, though. IWF is for the person who really wants to understand why the wind changes and when it is going to happen. The book covers a large number of situations and areas and there is a particularly good map on page 61 illustrating all the local winds in the Mediterranean. The Levante in the Straits of Gibraltar has a very simple description relating to season, place and time: 'All year ? strongest in winter. Can blow for ten days without respite'. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following meaning for respite: ? noun: a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant. What can possibly be 'unpleasant' about ten days of wind?Making up the core content of the book is the large number of tables, pictures and diagrams. This keeps it simple enough for most to understand and at the same time offers enough depth of information to be practically useful. As you would expect, a lot of the basis is studying the clouds and spotting depressions, highs and fronts, identifying the system and then predicting its movement and therefore the shift in wind. As well as all the tables, there are numerous pictures of clouds. The crux of it comes down to understanding which clouds are caused by which conditions and therefore being able to forecast. While I think that I know our local conditions pretty well, by learning more about cloud formations I now have a much more complete picture of what to expect from the day's wind.
Several tables cover subjects such as 'Recognising the coming breeze', 'Will there be a sea breeze?' and 'Where will there be a local wind shift?'. This is really useful information for kiteboarders and will definitely build confidence and understanding of what is going to happen on the beach.
We probably place too much emphasis on online forecasting and weather stations. Whilst these have their place, if you have some good knowledge of what will probably happen, then you can hit the two hour window when the wind is the best while geeks wait until the computer tells them to go, by which time they've possibly missed the best time.
One of the reasons the book was written was to help yacht and dinghy sailors spot wind shifts and improve their racing skills, but page one of the introduction predicts that kites will be important: 'The information on sea breezes maybe of use to anyone going to the beach...especially if they intend to fly kites'. Did Mr Watts foresee the future when he originally wrote the First edition in 1975?
Instant Wind Forecasting was featured in Issue #30.