17 minutes actually isn't that bad... I know, it sounds nuts and like you should be able to do it in 2 but things just never work out that way in the real world
Putting a 2nd person in the water is generally frowned upon but is apparently clipper SOP. I don't really have a problem with it myself provided that potential victim #2 only goes over once the boat is pretty much stopped alongside victim #1 - I'm sure that's what they did and to do it otherwise would be extremely stupid.
The main problem is that everybody practices these things on nice sunny days in calm seas and 10kt breeze. I'm no expert so I'm not going to start spouting tips and tricks, but 17 is unfortunately pretty reasonable. Technically I'm qualified for ISAF Cat 0 racing (Newport Bermuda is a Cat 1, I believe Fastnet is a Cat 2, our nearshore 'round the cans is Cat 5, etc). The #1 take-away from the whole cert process?? STAY ON THE BOAT!