Website checks the wind for the windsurfers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 January, 2010, 12:00am

Windsurfers need no longer waste precious daylight hours wondering which stretch of water has the best wind conditions: a local website now sorts that out for them.

The Hong Kong Observatory launched a webpage yesterday that provides daily weather forecasts for 10 windsurfing hot spots.

It provides information specifically tailored to windsurfers' needs, such as wind direction and speed for every hour between 6am and 7pm, and real-time weather observations.

'We developed the technology before the East Asian Games,' Sharon Lau Sum-yee, the observatory's senior scientific officer, said. During the Games, forecasts were provided for Tai Tam Bay, where the competition took place.

James Chik Kai-chung, a vice-president of the Windsurfing Association of Hong Kong, said competitors liked the site's accuracy and said it was up to international standards.

The webpage was created after the founder of the Wind Chasers group of windsurfing enthusiasts, Caxton Li Kin-kei, wrote to observatory director Dr Lee Boon-ying asking for such a service.

The observatory sought the athletes' advice, then applied its forecasting technology to 10 popular windsurfing locations, including Wu Kai Sha, Stanley and Cheung Chau.

A map is displayed on the website showing a windclock for each location. Red or blue hands on the clock face show the wind speed at each hour. A click on the windclock will show more detailed forecasts and local conditions.

Until now, Li said, windsurfers sought information from various sources. 'We normally look at the observatory's real-time wind speed and direction, as measured at weather stations and at overseas websites.' But the information provided by weather stations was not very accurate for their purposes because they were not based on readings taken at the actual waterside sites.

Li said the new service not only helps them decide whether to go windsurfing, but also improves safety, as it will tell if the wind is too strong.

The site is at hk/sports/windsurf.htm.