I'm pretty much with Jon and Dave on this one. I took a look at the SDR rally entrant list and I don't see any boats on there that look out of place based on age or builder alone. I think that says something -- lots of questionable boats make these runs but they are not doing so as part of the SDR.
I believe that the problems here have far more to do with the conditions in the N Atlantic in November than with anything the Rallys do or don't do. The nature of East Coast weather systems in the late fall / early winter is not something that gets a lot of attention (as Jon points out Don Street is the exception with his focus on the issue) but which really deserves it. The spacing of the cold fronts and the severity of local conditions are unknowns that can't be fully forecast (hell they're not even accurately reported afterward). In a certain respect, I think the rally format offers an opportunity to inform the participants of those risks and to give them an opportunity to prepare themselves and the boat.
Anyway, like everything else there is no black and white here. I am just glad that the only people who seem to spend much time talking about regulating offshore sailing are sailors themselves.
I'll make a couple of more clarifications on this - then I'll try to let it lie...
I'm not at all for "regulating offshore sailing". I'm for holding rally organizers to a higher standard
so that participants can benefit from that across the board. You're right that the SDR fleet is made up of a lot of very capable boats (I went through them too) - but this was not by design
according to the "rules" of that rally from what I've seen.
With a low entry threshold, the incentive to get as many boats as possible in the rally, and relatively low safety standards - ESPECIALLY IN THE CONDITIONS YOU'VE JUST POINTED OUT - things will likely not go well in the long term (I think we're already seeing this.)
Finally, on Chall's BFS angle...if I were to throw sponsor money at a rally, it would definitely be something like the Carib 1500, ARC, NARC, etc. That's because those rallies have a high standard of safety. I've always held that every up-and-coming sailor should want to "go big" - but that they should also be as prepared as possible to do so
. Encouraging big without pushing preparedness is never a good idea in my opinion.
PS - Here's a story of an emergency/injury well-handled in the C1500: