How does such a rally "increase the potential risk" of any of the participants?
Have any of them been coerced, or even 'encouraged', to make the passage from Hampton to the Caribbean, against their will?
"Have any of them been coerced, or even 'encouraged', to make the passage from Hampton to the Caribbean..."
Sure. That's the whole point of the rally isn't it?
"...against their will?"
Of course not. But there are three undeniable factors in a rally such as this that increase risk:
1. A schedule.
2. A relatively low bar of experience/preparedness required.
3. The perception of "safety in numbers".
When you stack all 3 of these on top of each other and the weather turns (from the SDR website)...
The Salty Dawg Rally got under way this week from Hampton, Va., Beaufort, NC and other ports with boats in the 116 strong fleet departing as each skipper saw fit beginning on November 2 and on through today. November 4 had been set as the fleet departure date but the basic philosophy of the SDR is to have each skipper determine the schedule and course of their own vessels and to take responsibility accordingly.
A strong front was forecast to pass over the mouth of the Chesapeake on the 4th and 5 so many skippers, heeding the advice of weather router Chris Parker, decided to start on Wednesday the 6 while others delayed their departures until the 7 and 8 . Defying the weather models, the front slowed and grew more intense as it passed over the bulk of the SDR fleet on Wednesday night and Thursday.
There were several incidents and emergencies among the fleet in the first 36 hours in which five boats had rudder and rig failures, seasickness and one broken arm. The U.S. Coast Guard, working closely with SDR volunteers, are assisting the sailors in need of outside help quickly and efficiently.
After distress calls, rally's decision-making questioned | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com
From the article...
Andy Schell fears the episode could be a black eye for ocean sailing. Schell, an event organizer for World Cruising Club, is in charge of planning the Caribbean 1500, an annual cruise, or rally, from Hampton Roads to the Virgin Islands.
The rally was scheduled to begin last Sunday, but the threat of back-to-back cold fronts prompted event organizers to set sail a day early from Portsmouth. Each of the 30 boats participating in that event crossed through the Gulf Stream without issue, Schell said.
"Nobody wants to see this happen," Schell said. "It's really a shame. That's why we use the sailing model that we use - to minimize the risk as much as possible and keep everyone safe."
The Caribbean 1500, which charges a participation fee and adheres to International Sailing Federation safety standards, has long required each boat to submit to pre-event safety checks and strongly suggests that its participants set sail within a certain window. If the boats hadn't left a day early, Schell said, forecasts suggested it would be at least a week before conditions improved enough to begin the event.
As I say - it's pretty simple.