Oct 29 2020 All Articles

The wizardry around weather watching

The wizardry around weather watching

Weather watching has got a whole lot more interesting, thanks to constantly developing technology and New Zealand is a key player in this sector.

New Zealand boaties questioning “what’s the wind doing” can rest assured their countryman, Jon Bilger, has a good handle on exactly that. Bilger – a former Olympic sailor, engineer and now weather-man – is well versed in weather-modelling technology. He’s married that knowledge with topographical information to allow specific local forecasting. From that marriage was born PredictWind, which was launched in 2008.

This sophisticated forecasting company is one of a number of free weather services available online.

As detailed in a Boating NZ article, PredictWind is a world leader in wind forecasting and provides top-line, daily briefing via graphs and tables around wind, weather conditions, temperature, tides and the sea state for the next seven days. Ocean Racing and America’s Cup-proven, PredictWind offers highest resolution wind and marine forecasts on the web.

Recreational mariners can dial up plenty of this information for free. (The company’s bottom line is supported by paid subscribers, including professional sailing teams and international cruisers).

PredictWind is proud of its forecast ability that is based on four different models, resulting in what this company claims is “the most accurate possible picture of what our notoriously unreliable weather is going to do next”.

Since its formation, PredictWind has grown to offer high-resolution forecasting for more than 350 boating hotspots around the world.

Now, in the lead-up to the 2021 America’s Cup, the company has been installing a network of real-time weather-monitoring stations to hep ascertain the movement of the sea breeze across the isthmus. This is expected to prove critical for race management during the Cup event. The stations will update every minute, and users of the app or website will be able to track what’s been happening at the site over the past two days up to the last hour.

“So, when you get a front coming through, you can ascertain its timing and compare that to the forecast to see what’s going to happen with a really high level of confidence,” Bilger explains.

Advancements don’t stop there. PredictWind has launched the ability to add a location by dropping a pin based on a GPS location or scrolling the map, rather than searching for it by name. Want an accurate forecast for a specific fishing spot or anchorage? This technology delivers. Keep an eye out too for PredictWind’s crowd-sourced local knowledge feature.

The PredictWind team has grown to 25 staff (in New Zealand and France) and employs people who really know their weather and water sports.