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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

22 December 2000

Sydney-to-Hobart forecast and new marine weather guide to keep fleet on track for big race

Sailors in this year's Sydney to Hobart will hear the first official weather forecast for the event at the launch of a new safety initiative in Sydney at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia today.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, will launch the Mini Guide to Marine Weather Services - a new national initiative in weather education for sailors and mariners. The forecast for the start of next Tuesday's race and the trend for the following few days will also be explained by Bureau of Meteorology forecasters.

"This is the first guide for New South Wales waters and is being made available for contestants of this year's race. During 2001 it will be progressively rolled out to other States and Territories", Sharman Stone said.

"Unlike other existing educational material, the Mini Guide to Marine Weather Services is pocket sized and waterproof to make it readily useable for sailors at sea to help understand the meaning of weather terms used".

"This new 'layman's' guide to off-shore weather has been in the pipeline for some time. The need for such a guide was re-inforced by the 1998 Sydney to Hobart, when many competing yachts who heard Bureau forecasts did not understand how the forecast translated into conditions at sea".

Dr Stone said that the new weather services guide contained information on important nautical telephone numbers and radio frequencies, definitions of common weather terminology including wind categories and warnings, details of marine weather forecasts and information on coastal water zones.

"The new guide will complement the important work that Bureau forecasters will contribute to the safety of competitors over the event's duration. This will include extensive briefings on Christmas Eve and the morning of the race to competing yachts and the distribution of a 'Weather Pack' containing the new mini-guide and other satellite imagery, sea and weather reports".

"Yachts equipped with satellite communications equipment will also receive three hourly coastal station reports courtesy of the Bureau".

"Let's hope this guide helps all competitors to have a better understanding of the enormous dangers that can exist in the waters that surround our country".

Copies of the new Mini Guide to Marine Weather Services is free and will be widely distributed through yacht and angling clubs and other maritime organisations. It will also be available from the Bureau's New South Wales office by calling 02 9296 1555.

For further information please contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468
December 22nd 2000

Commonwealth of Australia