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The Goldilocks Gybe

by Brad Baker, July 19th, 2016

The fleet has pretty much made their beds and now they have to sleep in them. In my last post I talked a bit about what was then, the upcoming decision on when to jibe. I coined the term “goldilocks jibe”, not to early, not to late but just right.   I also wrongly said that it wasn’t rocket science and that the wind shift would dictate when the jibe would happen. I should have remembered how much time I’ve spent fretting over when to make the move. I always joke that my bald head isn’t due to male pattern baldness but rather all the head scratching I’ve had to do fretting over decisions like this. As it turns out the decision on when to make the jibe from starboard jibe to port was/is a very important one that will have a huge impact on the odds of boats having a good finish. Another factor is just plain luck. The boats further ahead have found themselves very much in a rich get richer situation.

I’ll try to break this down a little. As the fleet passed through the SW quadrant of the pacific high they experienced a starboard jibe lift. This shift is beneficial and gives competitors the opportunity to jibe to port and more or less point their bow directly at Hawaii. As they sail further south typically the wind turns more easterly making it easier to lay the finish line. What has made things difficult for some of the fleet is the motion of the high pressure system itself. The high has continued to move to the west over the last three days. For those boats that were further behind or decided to jibe early there have been consequences. Instead of pointing at Hawaii they have found themselves pointing to the east of it, causing them to sail extra distance. Another issue is many are sailing in an area where the isobars are curving the most. For a high pressure system, where the isobars curve, there is generally lighter wind then in an area where the isobars stay more parallel. It’s a double whammy, those that jibed early or were further behind are sailing in less wind in a less favorable shift. On top of this as the high moves further west it is going to be difficult to ever sail in the easterly shift that the leaders and boats further west are enjoying.

 See the Weather Maps and Rest of story at http://swiftsureyachts.com/goldilocks-jibe/

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