May 1st, 2024

Wind Speed or Wind Direction — What Is Most Important?

Wind reading bryan litz speed direction

Wind-Reading Lesson from Bryan Litz

Q: What’s more important — wind speed, or direction?

A: Obviously they both matter, but they do trade dominance based on direction. For example, a 10 mph wind between 2:30 and 3:30 is only changing its value from 9.7 to 10 to 9.7 mph (bracket of 0.3 mph). However a 10 mph wind between 11:30 and 12:30 is changing its cross wind component value from 2.6 mph left to zero to 2.6 mph right (bracket of 5.2 mph). There is the same 30° change in direction, but this results in a massively different bracket.

Point being, in this case, a direction change is far more critical if it’s near 6 or 12 o’clock. A small direction change when it’s close to 3 or 9 o’clock is negligible.

On the contrary, a change in wind SPEED when it’s near 3 or 9 affects your crosswind component directly. But for a near head or tail wind, a fluctuation in wind speed only causes a small fraction of a change to the crosswind component.

SUMMARY: If you’re in a near full-value wind, pay more attention to wind SPEED. If you’re closer to a head- or tail-wind, nailing the exact DIRECTION will be more important.

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Bryan Litz coaching Team USA in Canada using a WIND PLOT.

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