I'm new to the board *first post*, as well as sailing, I just finished my US Sailing Basic Keelboat 4 weeks ago. However, I think this has a bit to do with the kind of person you are.
When I do anything I try to do it the best of my ability. If I'm in a car then I'm trying to hit apexes, drive as smoothly as possible, and in general do the same thing I would on the track, but slower for my licenses sake.
During my sailing class the instructor had me rounding buoys day 2 and trying to keep the boat as trimmed out as possible. Day 3 was testing, then trying to get more time dodging the Staten Island Ferry and around more buoys. Why do something half way unless 'forced' to.
This is not to say there's no time to relax. There is plenty of time, when dialed in on a tack, where you basically sit back and just maintain and enjoy.
I'm not advocating carelessness, or dangerous situations. There are reasons racers do everything, and for the most part they are about safety. Since I have limited exposure to sailing (working on this as much as possible) I will use an auto racing comparison. When you take a turn you want to slow in a straight line before turning the wheel, get on the gas as soon as possible in the turn, and hit the apex of the turn.
Each of those actions have safety reasons. Though in the US we have lax automotive drivers ed, if you take a motorcycle course you will be taught every one of them.
For the same reasons racers do certain things, cruisers should do the same, or similar things. Again keeping in mind that those certain subset of things that lower the safety factors should not be carried over. The last thing anyone wants to have to do is make that emergency call.
As always YMMV, this is only my $.02