This is too funny… If “drunken little Otto” is the best helmsman on your boat than perhaps racing isn’t your thing. When we get bored doing a delivery we will sometimes hold contests to see who can drive the boat the fastest. So far,” little Otto” has never finished above DFL.
Helming a boat in a long race is a very sensory-based, 3-dimensional activity. It requires anticipation of a lot of variables, not just reaction to them. Otto just ain't got it when it comes to this kind of driving.
So in this regard, it would make absolutely no sense to want to use the AP when you're racing
To your point however, SJack, this situation will most likely be encountered in Off-Shore races, not in-shore stuff. In that regard, the ORR has this to say about it (which leverages somewhat your definition of power/energy vs. control)
4.09 Energy Storage.
Other than bilge pumps, no device, unless permitted under RRS 52 Manual Power, may be used while racing which derives assistance from energy stored to do work. However, refer to the ORR Appendix 7 exclusion to this for yachts rated with water ballast or canting keel. This rule may be modified by race organizers through their Notice of Race to permit the use of stored energy for winches, furlers and autopilots.
It's generally left to the RO to make these calls.