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The Commodore's Comments - April 2014

Mark Powell, SPSC Commodore, 2014

Will it suck or will it blow?

Swami and the Festoons performed this song (to the 80’s Clash hit “Should I stay or should I go”) in my honor at the Wind Ceremony March 22nd.  I could not quite make out all the words but it did seem quite accurate…  forecasting is not my forte’.  I usually don't even know a tropical storm is forming until my mother in law says:  “What about that hurricane in the Gulf?”

I‘ve tried forecasting however.  I was asked by the US Sailing team to be the forecaster for the 1991 Pan Am Games in Havana, Cuba.  Realizing that I would not have access to all the models and satellite imagery here in the U.S., I worked at the Miami National Weather Service Office and set up the forecast to be faxed to the team hotel each morning, thereby missing out on all the evening mojito sessions in Havana.  Then a few years later I was part of the NOAA Marine Forecast Team at the 1996 Olympic Sailing events in Savannah.  That gave me an opportunity to work with some of the best forecasters in the U.S. and we worked for all the teams participating.  We had video feeds coming from the different race courses, a couple of weather buoys nearby, and had a meteorologist on the water each day.  I did lots of research on the peculiar sea breeze there and we did pretty good.  The teams without their own forecasters were especially appreciative of our efforts but it was the research and forecast models that did most of the work.

When competing in windsurfer and IMCO events I was really into measuring wind and current and tried to forecast what would happen each day.  I would put a small piece of sponge in the water to measure currents at various spots on the Peace River at Port Charlotte, use a hand bearing compass to measure wind direction and used some of the first little hand held anemometers to measure the wind speed.  Later, I tried some of the first devices to measure speed (a little impeller that attached to the fin) and then a Garmin Forerunner to measure GPS tracks and give realtime speed.  I’d upload my tracks and then analyzed performance with some sweet software developed by the folks at GPS Speedsurfing.  I’m one of the few to log peak speed from an RS:X (26.9 kts) on that site (and that kind of speed on a big ‘ol RSX is pretty scary!).  With all that technology its still really difficult to forecast.  The big wind shift would happen after we were done racing for the day or the wind would die when I thought it was going to pick up.  Sailors are pretty tough customers.  They don’t remember when you hit it correctly and never let you forget when you blow it.  So will it suck or will it blow?  By now you can tell I just don’t know!

Thanks Paul Hansard and the rest of the Festoons for the lyrics, Bobbie and Sandy for hosting the event, and Swami for his presentation at our record-attendance meeting last month. The wind ceremony was a great time!

And just so you don’t go around thinking I made all this stuff up, I actually wrote it down years ago.  Here’s a link to the first of three articles I wrote for WindRider on the topicThe whole series will be available on our web site.  Also here are a couple of references… I had to do this so I could get paid to assist with these “boondogles”

  • Powell, M. D. and S. K. Rinard, 1998: Marine Forecasting at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Weather and Forecasting, 13, 764-782.
  • Powell, M. D., 1993: Wind forecasting for yacht racing at the 1991  Pan American Games. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 74(1), 5-16.
Remember, Go Long or go Wrong!

Mark Powell, SPSC Commodore, 2014

PS.  After many years, I left NOAA on March 29th to pursue a new start-up right here in Tallahassee.  HWind Scientific will be gearing up for this hurricane season.  Check us out at www.hwind.co

NEW: SPSC Library

  1. WEATHER: A Forecasting Primer for Riders On The Storm

  2. INSTANT WEATHER: How To NOWCAST The Current Conditions For Boardsailing

  3. BREEZY BUSINESS: Nowcasting in Regatta Competition

  4. SwamiToons

View from the Vice BobbyG

Once again the SPSC showed what they are all about.  Having the honor of chairing the Wind Ceremony, the premier event for the greatest windsurfing band in the tri-county area, I was witness to the wonderfulness of others.  I know, I know, I’m supposed to be writing of others Vices, but not this time.

My wonderful wife, Sandy, did not assist with registration, she did it!  I was busy being a roadie for the band, trying to get gear not meant for an outdoor band performance to work properly.  While I was doing this, Sandy was being inundated with requests for shirts and registrations.  What we still needed was organizing the food buffet and the fire.  With her expertise at other venues, Linda did a wonderful job organizing the tables and the accessories needed for people to eat and was there at the end to break down.  Realizing that I was kicked out of the cub scouts, I asked Dan and Bill to build a fire from Dave’s wood, I mean log, I mean the wooden logs from his property, which they did expertly.  Since there was no starter wood but there was a Christmas tree, they stuffed its branches underneath.  With a good 12 to 15 knots of wind blowing in, once that fire was lit, it burned hot.  Thanks to Dan, Bill, and Dave for getting the fire done!  Also, thanks to Terry for watching the registration table while Sandy took care of some other business and the Chair of the event was nowhere to be found.  What does this all mean other than very poor planning on the part of the chair?  Well, that members of the SPSC are the bestest.

In addition to these folks, Wright once again coordinated setting up the lights and getting Rick up on a platform to mix the sound.  I know John and Stan were in the mix helping Wright out as well as others.

What can I say about the main attraction, Swami and the Festoons, other than they were at the top of their game, with a whole slew of new songs, and no one wanting to go home when it was over.   The horn section was tight, Swami, Donna, and Perry where in fine voice (you too Dave and Adam), bass was thumping, guitars were twanging, drums were banging, and a good time was had by all.

Club Meeting, March 2014

Meeting called to order at 7:30, punctuality may be the theme for the Mark Powell commodority.  We started with 22 people present, then three more people showed up, then three more! And then I stopped counting.  Hard copy agendas were provided to all and sundry, perhaps the paperless meeting has gone by the wayside already. The Commodore opened with his vision for future club meetings that focused less on business and more on edification.

Minutes were approved as there had not been a general meeting in February, so it was a bit a no-brainer.

Perry Morris provided a recap of the Fiesta Keys trip; a good time was had by all.

The upcoming Wind Ceremony, hosted by Swami and the Festoons and chaired by Bob and Sandy Graves, was discussed.  In particular a budget was requested for the event, so extravagant that we could see that we are supporting Bobby G’s impresario lifestyle.  Nevertheless, the budget was approved by acclamation, with Mark and Rick seeing through Bob’s smoke and mirrors and opposing.

Purser announced we have money in our checking account, upcoming expenses for US Sailing/windsurfing membership.

Our memberships for 2014 now stand at 54, with most of the stragglers accounted for.

Nimby and Endless Summer dates were discussed.  Nimby will be Father’s Day weekend or the following weekend, a poll will be conducted to get feedback from the members.  The training calendar has been set and the dates posted on the website.  Rum n Rootbeer will be on a Sunday this year, as we do not roll on Shabbas.

Some new members arrived, there was much rejoicing, apparently someone is leaving old superlights around town again.

Chuck gave a stirring presentation of the early history of the Wind Ceremony with video footage from back in the day!  There was even copies of newspaper articles about the Wind Ceremony that were in the mainstream media, back when they talked about interesting things.  The presentation was followed by a Q and A with Chuck about the Swami and his talismans.

Meeting ended.  At 08:06, Bob Graves made the motion, which was seconded, and carried.

Thus endeth the minutes for March 2014.

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