I think you make a really good point Tom.
The more meaningful discussion around the rallys is less about Rally A vs Rally B and more about what sorts of things that aspiring offshore sailors (individually) should be thinking about in advance of their departure. Where they leave from (Newport vs Norfolk vs Beaufort) is a huge under-discussed point; what experience level they feel is appropriate is another (you can preach hard rules but you may as well howl at the moon); what equipment another (my boat is smaller than the smallest in either rally . . . what does or should that mean?).
You must make those decisions whether you shove off alone or as part of an organized passage. Rallys may entice some because of the social and or logistical benefits, but I doubt anyone is really saying to themselves, I am going to sail in Rally A because their inspection requires IASF regs, etc.. The fact is the decisions about experience and equipment and jump off spot and all need to be made by the skipper whether they are part of a rally or not. The experience of those respective fleets (and fleets in many rallys in recent years) should be instructive. Unfortunately, I think many are reluctant to relate those experiences because of the sort of posturing that goes on in many of these threads.
Anyway, not to hijack smack's thread, but I'd find a discussion of those points much more enlightening and useful than a bunch of absolutes about what rallys should or should not be.
I agree that Tom makes some good points. And so do you. So don't worry about hijacking anything. It's a discussion.
However, I also agree with Morganscloud's take. For example, despite your point above Ausp, I absolutely do think you can make the same financial argument for the SDR that you can for the 1500. The SDR pulls in sponsorships (stuff/money) which will be based on their numbers of participants - so there is financial incentive, despite the fact that there is no entry fee. That's just the way it is. Any other argument is a smokescreen.
I think Tom's and stink's points above are where the rubber really meets the road. If ANY rally has such a low bar for entry that you're not getting people that know and have the answers to the questions above, you're being very irresponsible facilitating them heading out into the GS in November. Period.
And this irresponsibility is then compounded if you're not taking any steps to ensure some level of safety across the fleet you've organized.
So, all of your points are valid. And much of this debate would be moot merely by the rally organizers increasing the level of experience for participants. As for what that bar is - that's the discussion.
Finally, Tom, in light of the number of SAR cases in this particular rally, I'm comfortable saying that yes, this was one that "gone wrong".