With the clarity of hindsight and from the comfort of my desk, I have to say that IMHO, Smack's comment says it all - 100 yards or so off a lee shore with North Pacific surf breaking on it? I noted Mr. Chong's comment about no-one on board saying anything about how close they were - I sure would have. There have been similar deadly incidents locally, where racers got too close to a lee shore in wind and sea. Even without that freak wave, what would have happened if the steering chose that spot to fail or a shroud let go or any of the other serious problems that can befall a sailboat? From everything I've read and seen of this incident, there was no room to recover from anything going wrong.
In the other thread on this tragedy, someone commented about the possibility of race committees using GPS waypoints to keep racers from overenthusiastically cutting the corner like this - sounds to me like an excellent idea which could very likely have prevented this terrible incident.
Having said that, I fully agree with the comments about the guts it took to write the personal account of the incident and I extend my sympathy to the friends & families of the victims.
The hard thing, though, is that we're talking about racing
. Racing is all about the ragged edge - not playing it conservatively. Whether it's auto racing - where you try to slow down in a corner only enough to not lose grip and careen into the wall, or cycling, or skiing, etc. where you do the same...it's all about cutting corners as closely as you can.
As we have seen in this VOR, the organizers can always take steps to mitigate the risk with stuff like GPS marks, but the racer will still push to the edge until something goes horribly wrong - and the cycle starts again.
So it's hard to apply "conservative logic" to incidents like this. You get closer and closer to that edge for the speed - then you lose it...and the outcome is out of your hands at that point.