Mistral time

Yesterday we got our first taste of the Mistral wind this season down in La Grande Motte and after the last two week session when we had almost nothing but very light airs this was quite a major event. The Mistral is well known to anyone who has sailed in the north west Mediterranean as it gives rise to one of two outcomes: an excellent day’s sailing or an excellent day spent holidaymaking as sailing is blown off. Rumoured to blow in either three, six or nine day lots the Mistral is said to drive inhabitants of the coastline mad in large doses and apparently on the eight successive day it becomes legal to murder your wife according to some local customs.

Unfortunate for us this time we only got one day 30 knot fun on the water as the conditions needed to drive the wind were only fleeting. In the picture above you see a ridge of high pressure labelled H to the north of La Grande Motte (circled in black) and a low pressure, labelled L, to our south and east. The wind is driven from high pressure to low pressure and accelerates into the Golf de Lion as it passes over and around the alps as shown by the purple barbs on this forecast. Our precise location is important as we are sheltered from the strongest forces of the Mistral which often blows at around 50knots in Marseilles just 80 miles down the coast. As it is sailing is very rarely blown off in La Grande Motte for too much wind…

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