One of the problems I've always had with this thread is that I can't shake the feeling that it could encourage a bit of reckless/unsafe behaviour amongst people who have just enough experience to be dangerous to themselves or others.
Ste - great write up and analysis. Thanks dude.
As to whether this thread encourages reckless/unsafe behavior in inexperienced sailors - I think it's definitely a valid point. I'm one of those sailors.
To me there are three basic ways to look at BFS:
1. You can be someone who is totally unprepared who takes a boat into dangerous situations just to cop a thrill and say you BFS'd. You might survive it - you might not. All you have at that point is luck.
2. You can be someone who ALWAYS avoids hairy conditions at ALL COSTS and prays for calm during every passage so you can call yourself a "prudent sailor" who's "always in control".
3. You can be someone who ENJOYS edgier sailing and pushing some limits - knowing that you're going to get hit at some point - one way or another. And that the best possible thing to do is prepare for it.
This last one requires that you learn everything you absolutely can from every source you can as you go. You seek out others' experiences and knowledge so you can better know what to do if/when the situation gets dangerous. And you work your way up to bigger winds and seas slowly to prep yourself and your boat.
The goal is still BFS (unlike #2) - but now you're training for it (unlike #1). And even so, just like that very experienced J24 skipper in your story, you very well might still get caught. That's sailing.
The whole point of BFS, in my mind, has always been to enjoy and celebrate the adventurous side of sailing. And typically that has to do with heavy weather, racing, long passages, screwing up, first time under full sail, etc. - or a combination of the above. That's exciting and it's educational. That's cool.
If a newbie sailor reads these stories and decides to be a #1 homey - that's not real smart on his/her part. Just look at the stories.
At the same time, who wants to be a #2 drifter? Not me. If you think about it - that sailor is just as unprepared as #1. That's why I never bought into the whole "chest-beating" thing some people try to put on BFS. That's not it.
I guarantee you that there are many non-racing sailors on this site that would say flying a chute in 25 knots is insane and full sail in 30+ is "irresponsible". I'm not one of those BTW.
It's all just a balance. That BFS edge is relative. And the best you can do is learn and prepare for where you personally want to ride it.
Anyway, as a learning sailor with no certs and very few miles under his keel - I appreciate your story. I've learned a lot. I saw 50 knots in a squall a few weeks ago while I was working on my boat in the slip. I have no desire to be out on a boat in that. Scary freakin' stuff. But I also want to learn to be ready for it...because I don't enjoy the slip that much.
The only question I have is - what will you do differently now? (e.g. - hatchboards in racing? more buoyancy?).
PS - Which newbs out there read this stuff and think that the #1 route is the way to go? C'mon - out yourselves!