Meet the 108th Race to Mackinac Official Meteorologist
Chris Bedford, CCM
Bedford at 2015 briefing

Chris Bedford has provided weather forecasts to Great Lake's sailors for over 30 years. One of his very first forecasts as a professional meteorologist was for The Race to Mackinac. A Michigan native, he grew up fascinated  with the active weather of the Great Lakes region. Chris graduated from the University of Michigan College of Engineering, receiving his degree with honors from the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department in 1986. He founded Sailing Weather Service in 1998 after 10 years experience as an environmental consultant and 2 years as operations manager at a large commercial weather forecasting operation in New England.


Sailing Weather Service has grown with a highly focused mission to provide customized weather solutions to some of the world’s leading competitive sailing teams and premiere yachting events. Chris Bedford’s sailing weather experience is extensive and successful.

  • A veteran of 9 America's Cup cycles (1987 through 2013), Chris has been with more winning AC efforts than any other meteorologist.
  • Working with 5 Volvo Ocean Race/Whitbread teams, he provided close support to the winning teams in 2001/02 (illbruck) , 2008/09 (Ericsson) and 2014/15 (Abu Dhabi).
  • His advice has been valued through 4 US Sailing Team campaigns – Barcelona, Savannah, Sydney and Athens; teams that accumulated a total of 17 medals.
  • Chris has consulted on numerous adventure records, including the all time trans-Atlantic sailing speed record set by the French trimaran, Banque Populaire (3 days 15 hours 25 minutes).
  • Over the years, Chris has provided hundreds of hours of weather instruction to a wide range of audiences from beginning sailors to world champions. He is sought out for his straight-forward, honest, and practical approach to using weather knowledge as a competitive advantage.
Bedford is a motivated advocate for the application of new techniques and technology to sailing:
  • He pioneered the application of ensemble modeling techniques to the problem of Optimal Routing in yacht racing. During the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race, illbruck challenge used Bedford's pioneering techniques to help win the race. These methods continue to evolve with the advancement of modeling and routing software.
  • In 2012, he was part of a team awarded a patent for "Using Remotely detected Wind Velocities to Enhance Understanding of an Impending or Occurring Event". The patent employs state-of-the-art forward looking doppler LIDAR to predict changes in the wind from seconds to 10s of minutes in advance.
Chris has been recognized for his outstanding work and dedication to sailing and his profession:
  • In 2004, Chris received the US Sailing President’s Award specifically for his work with the US Sailing Team at the Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
  • In 2009, he was awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering Alumni Society Merit Award.
  • Chris was awarded status as a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) by the American Meteorological Society in 1994. At that time, he was the youngest person to ever receive the CCM designation.  Currently, there are approximately 400 active CCMs nationwide.

He has served as President of the National Council of Industrial Meteorologists and on a number of professional boards and committees with the American Meteorological Society, Air and Waste Management Association, and the former Commercial Weather Services Association. Over the years, Bedford has written and presented numerous technical papers at conferences and for refereed scientific journals, and has been an invited speaker and instructor.


Aside from forecasting the weather, Bedford remains active in and out of sailing:

  • He is a member of the Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, MI;
  • Has been a licensed airplane pilot since 1994, and;
  • A bodybuilder using "old school" heavy compound movement weight training supplemented with high intensity interval training and a strict, clean diet.