The weather routing problem has the following parts:
- a predicted surface wind direction and speed, at increments of longitude, latitude, and time
- an expected surface current direction and speed, at increments of longitude, latitude, and time
- 'polar data' describing maximum speed of a sailboat at points of sail for a given speed of wind over water
- regions for sailing (the open ocean) and not (the land, shallows, restricted areas, etc.)
- a starting location and time, and a destination
Given the above information and a specific path, progress and arrival time are determined. The weather routing problem, conversely, is to determine the path which results in the earliest arrival time.