I was out racing in a non-flying sails club race this weekend and during a pole take-down at the leward mark we proceeded to get into the biggest line snafup that I have ever seen. During the confusion I noticed that some of this could have been avoided with a simple change.
Here's what happened: we had our 150genny up (too big) in 18kts true. As we disconnected the pole the sail immediately went forward of the headstay and there was too much slack in the lazy sheet. BOTH sheets origamied themselves all over the anchor roller (a 4" protrusion) the pulpit and the nav light. It was a nightmare! The sail kept twisting and the sheets kept fouling.
The captain called to let go of the windward sheet and just tack the sail around the headstay like an asymmetric and we could sort it out later. Here's the part where things got really ugly. In the confusion nobody could tell what was the windward sheet and what (in the tangled cluster) was the leward sheet. We tried leading sheets several times to find that we were zig-zagging them all over the boat. The captain was about to have a stroke.
It suddenly occurred to me that different colored sheets would have been very useful. Of course it would have also been useful to have the right sized headsail, more sheet tension and perhaps more attentive trimmers, less crap up on the bow (though there isn't much and we've never had this happen before. I've seen different colored sheets before on boats and always thought of them as a bit of a gimmick, but we sure could have used them to decrease the magnitude of our huge fubar.