Bigsalty forecast rating systems
Bigsalty Ratings use a unique method for rating weather conditions.
Windsurfing rating overview
This document outlines the way that the various Bigsalty Ratings work in order to help you get a better idea of how to interpret and make use of the system that is relevant to you! We have created three separate categories of ratings some or all of which will be available at any location. If you consider yourself a beginner, we have a rating that looks for the best places for you to learn; if you are just interested in the wind, we have a system that looks at the directions that work for a particular beach; and if you are interested in wave sailing and down the line riding, then we have a system that rates the conditions based on wave characteristics as well as wind.
How we rate the conditions is all done by a set of algorithms fed by configurations for each particular spot that are re-run 4 times a day with updated forecast data from the GFS and NWW3 forecasting systems. We look at each location individually and configure the ratings for each wind direction and each wave direction if appropriate. This is carried out through research as to what makes the place tick and through local knowledge. For example, we look at what wind directions work and those that do not; we also incorporate any location specific events such as venturi effects. For the windsurfers, and kitesurfers out there interested in down the line conditions, we also look at swell period, direction and swell height with the wind direction.
To get the most out of this cool and unique system use it along side the actual forecast readings so that you know what the actual forecast is doing but also where Bigsalty thinks you should go. For example, if you do a search in your region it may well be that for a given direction there is somewhere that could give you conditions way better than the beach you go to day in, day out.
Maximise your time on the water and get the best conditions possible!
Bigsalty Wind Rating
What do we look at?
We look at the wind direction, strength, angle of the beach and any venturi or local effects at the location.
Who is it for?
This rating is for all recreational windsurfers. Windsurfers who are interested in planing conditions and those interested in jumping and cross-onshore/ onshore conditions.
For the Bigsalty Wind Rating, we just look at the wind and we only rate the directions that are worth windsurfing at a given location. This means that if the direction is understood to not be any good, or alternatively if the direction is offshore, then the location will receive no stars – zip, nada. For the same reason, if the wind is the correct direction for that beach, you will always see at least one star even if there is barely any wind.
Crazy? Well, no not exactly.
The reason we do this is so that it is easy to see when a beach is not even worth checking on a given day so that you can cross it off the list altogether. Hopefully, that will save you petrol but also allow you to go to a more appropriate beach even if there are non-planing conditions that could be had. This takes care of people who have big kit and who want to get out on the water regardless.
- 0 star: The wind is the wrong direction for this beach, try somewhere else.
- 1 star: The wind is the correct direction for the beach. There could be some planing conditions so check the wind speed to judge what strength you need with your kit to get planing.
- 2 star: This will kick in general at about 16-18 kts (Force 5 Beaufort) or when the conditions are thought to be really good for bump and jump conditions and freestyle. In areas where there is a known Venturi effect, the actual forecasted wind displayed next to the stars can be quite a lot less but the conditions rocking.
- 3 star: Indicates when the wind strength typically reaches a top end Force 5 or conditions that are associated with more demanding conditions that would suit the folks interested in bigger jumping and catching waves.
Bigsalty Wave Rating (DTL Rating)
What do we look at?
We look at the swell direction, period, height and wind strength and direction. We also take in to consideration any wrapping that swell will have to do and configure each variable for what is known to be good at the beach.
Who is it for?
For people only interested in down-the-line wave riding and cross shore jumping. This does not rate cross onshore or onshore wave conditions – if you are looking for onshore riding or jumping, then it is best to keep an eye out for swell and a Bigsalty Wind Rating of 2-3.
We take in to consideration what directions of swell and combinations of swell period and height create the best waves at the beach. We look at an optimum situation and call that 3 star. Ideally, you should aim to search for 3 star conditions with 2 star at least – bear in mind that 3 star conditions can be pretty rare for certain locations ( see the respective beach guides for more information ).
- 0 star: Either the wind or swell (or both) are in the wrong direction. Ignore.
- 1 star: This can highlight good swell but not much wind. If this is the case, and the swell looks good, then take your surf board with you!
- 2 star: The conditions could be pretty good and well worth checking out – you could have a really good session.
- 3 star: This is how we would rate near optimum conditions for this beach. If it’s the 3 star rating, it is the correct combination of everything. Bear in mind this may not happen very often!
Bigsalty Beginner Rating
What do we look at?
We look at wind direction and strength for non-marine locations. We also look at wave height for coastal locations. Local wind effects are also taken in to consideration.
Who is it for?
This is for people who are getting to grips with the learning stages of windsurfing and are likely to need to windsurf in calm waters and light winds (F4 and below). Once you are interested in learning to plane, we suggest you start looking at the Bigsalty Wind Rating instead!
We rate light winds (F4 and below) highly as a 3 star rating in expectation of learners using high volume boards that can readily float in light winds. At coastal locations where wave heights above a certain threshold deemed unsuitable for that location a zero star rating in shown. This means that if there is no star rating under the Beginner Rating setting then it may be best to try somewhere else.
- 0 star: The direction could be wrong; the swell in coastal locations too big or wind too strong. Ignore.
- 1 star: The wind might be too strong.
- 2 star: The wind might be touching on the strong side for complete beginners, but good for those breaking in to planing.
- 3 star: Winds under force 4 and the easiest safest conditions for beginners.
Disclaimer. Of course it has to be said, regardless of whether you are looking at the actual forecast or the ratings for the forecast, always check that the conditions are appropriate for your level of windsurfing before you hit the water! Safety is everything, so if in doubt – pick a safer location.
For feedback and suggested improvements to the system, please feel free to leave feedback in the forum. It could be that you feel the star rating could be improved for a particular wind direction (we could have dropped a decimal place or carried a 3 by mistake). But whatever the reason, we want to make the system as good as possible for you, so any constructive suggestions are always welcome!