Re: Full Throttle....My inclination in having to make such a landing would be full throttle in reverse on approach to try to check/minimize the forward speed. I suspect the neighbor was doing that and only shifted to forward after the line was secured to hold the boat to the pier.
Re: 40 kt. tailwind....what would have happened if someone fumbled the line....how many seconds to get it right on first try, then how many, if any, to recover the line and try again in 40 kts.? After the fumble, what happens and how expensive? And with the high wind, any wave action to bang the boat against the pier? Was the landing absolutely necessary or were there other, less risky alternatives?
No he was definitely in forward full throttle. The reason was that the wind wasn't exactly on his stern, it was slightly quartered. He was at full throttle so he could have maximum steerage.
What would have happened if I wasn't there? The wife, gets off and secures the cleat, that's how they've done it before in other hairy spots during their circumnavigation. They trusted me as a line handler, but I don't trust strangers to handle lines.
What happens if they fumble the cleat? THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF DAMAGE and possibly injuries. The reason I was impressed was that they were 100% committed. Really stupid/lucky or really good... still not sure but since they've been around the world and they did pull it off like it was no big deal, I'm leaning towards very good.
Me, I've done this kind of thing on a side tie, where I could afford to miss. I wouldn't have tried the stunt they pulled. I'd rather anchor on the nasty side of the breakwater and enjoy a crappy night's sleep.
The version of this trick that I do is much less desperate. Usually dead slow or up to 2-3 knots max. Still, I'd like to know the forces because I'm a geek like that.