Have you ever booked a holiday expecting to be on the water most days only to find that the wind does not turn up?
Why is it that the wind-statistics of a new destination look so good and that often when you arrive there the actual experience is so poor?
Part of the reason is that we are not very good at reporting and reading the wind statistics.
I’ve been intrigued about this “wind-gap” for years, first as a windsurfer starting 30 years ago and then from a business point of view when I was looking for the right spot to start a kitesurf center (in the end we picked Sao Vicente, one of the Cape Verde islands).
One of my experiences that shed light on the “wind-gap” were holidays in Egypt. Not having much money, I could afford to go on a winter holiday to Safaga and Marsa Alam and was hopeful for some wind based on statistics but found the wind to be disappointing, the first time I went (thinking I had been unlucky), the second time (still unlucky?) and the third time (what’s going on?)
. We have a saying in Holland that says that you’ll get lucky at the 3rd attempt and I did, not with the wind but an insight
. I noticed that on many days I was woken up early in the morning by a seemingly howling wind, I would be the first at breakfast, stuff myself as fast as possible and run to the beach to find that the wind was slightly off-shore and dying quickly. Guess what? On many of those days the wind would not pick up again until the next night.
So what’ the insight? I started suspecting that the statistics included these night-time winds and found that this is indeed the case.
Since then, I’ve looked at wind statistics in a different way. I no longer rely on reports of “% of days with 4BFT or more” and look for:
- % of time the wind blows during the day
- the wind has to be in the right direction (cross-shore / cross-onshore)
- the wind should be in the right range (also not too strong esp. for a kitesurf school): 11 – 25 knots
Here’s the result when El Gouna during November 2009 is taken as example (data source: daily archive www.windguru.com
The % of days with 4 BFT or more statistic: 80% . Wow!!
The statistic I now use: % of time with 11-25 knots after 8am & before 8pm, cross / cross-on shore: 49% (a bit less Wow).
So if you stayed in El Gouna for all of November 2009, would you be able to go on the water 80% of the time? The answer is no. If you had been dedicated and planned each day around the wind, you would have been able to spend 49% of your time on the water at most.
So taken day by day what explains the gap between the 80% and 49% statistic?
Of all the 24 days registered as 4BFT or more:
- The wind only blew during the night for 7 of those days
- The wind was in the wrong direction (E-NE, off-shore) 1 of those days
- The wind only blow during a small time of the day (the morning or early morning and late afternoon) 3 of those days
- The wind was too strong for beginners (27 knots) part of 1 day
My advise: do not simply use the statistic of days with 4BTF or more and ask yourself : how is the wind during the day, what direction does it blow? If not, you may end up having many disappointing kitesurf holidays.