I was on a Farr 395, doing bow, so I missed a lot of the drama on the radio. The start was indeed off the Rockaways, in 20-25knots and ~6-8' seas. It was pretty much a greasy mess, with the committee doing some interesting things at the start. If I understood correctly, they moved the start line at one point and had to postpone because most of the fleet wasn't in the area.
We started about 4p and it just kept building. We started with 2 reefs in and the storm jib out. The boat wouldn't point, so after 1.5 hrs we only made 1 nm of course. At that point, we tacked and the shackle on the newly active sheet blew up. Before we could get it secured, the ring on the inhaul smashed the starboard coachroof window as the sail luffed. Given the size of the window (~10"x6') and improbability of repair, we pulled out of the race.
The ride back was really fun. We saw 12 knots of boat speed and 35 knot winds with seas peaking around 12'. Then the cover on our second reef line (brand new North fancy stuff) parted in the clutch, with the sail ties holding the sail down and the grommets ripping through the laminate.
The boat was from CT, but used Atlantic Highlands as a staging area. We headed back there where most people headed home and I took refuge at the bar. Another boat rocked up saying they called it when they realized it would take 46 hours to make Montauk. They clocked 45 knots sustained.
There are a couple other accounts on a Raritan YC member's blog: Messing About In Sailboats
As for the seas, they were pretty regular. The weather wasn't that cold and I was pretty well prepared for a rough ride. But, I wasn't disappointed to not spend the next 18 hours on the rail getting the crap kicked out of me.