Nah, c'mon George...
Surely, an ISAF pre-race inspection would have foretold the likely delamination of the bulkheads on a Morgan OI 41, the rig failure on a Hans Christian 38, and the rudder failure on that Catalina 42.... :-)
Paulo, we're talking about setting out from a point north of Cape Hatteras, in November... 25 knots of breeze is about the MINIMUM of what one can reasonably expect to encounter at some point on that passage, and if 30 knots is the most you ever see on that run, you're been very fortunate, indeed... Many of the best weather windows for that trip will often include such weather early on, and any sailor who expects they will somehow manage to avoid such conditions during the course of that voyage is delusional :-)
Not to mention, anyone not prepared to encounter considerably more on this trip has no business making it to begin with...
Well, you choose to dismiss the fact that the 1500 and most of the Salty Dawgs sailed in entirely different weather systems from the outset, but carry on :-)
So, what does ISAF have to say about departure dates, weather windows for this particular passage, or the choice of weather routers? For, IMHO, that was the distinguishing feature that applies to any comparison, here...
Andy Schell claims the 1500 never would have left when most of the SD fleet did, but that's pretty easy to say, in hindsight... I've seen firshand how ill-prepared a rally like the 1500 is, to deal with a weather postponement of more than a week... Make no mistake, they made the right call leaving when they did, I've stated that from the outset. Perhaps Chris Parker missed this one, but he's still the best in the business, and to place blame on the weather routing this year, is just as unseemly as the attempts by some last year to lay the blame for the NARC debacle on Herb Hilgenberg...
Sometimes, the SHTF on this passage, there's not much anyone can do about it, it's really that simple :-)
Jon, I really don't get your arguments here. I've been reading your posts for a long time. And you're not one to go easy on sailors who go out "underprepared", then run into problems. In fact, you're typically pretty harsh.
Yet, when it comes to this rally incident where 8 out of 116 boats had serious gear failures and/or became SAR cases, you're willing to give a pass to the organization that encouraged/facilitated this group of boats to be out there in the very conditions you cite above.
So, on the one hand, you're saying that the organization's low-experience threshold for entry and low standard of safety preparedness for the rally is perfectly fine. Yet, on the other hand, you're saying that no sailor
should undertake a trip like this unless they have a high level of experience and a high level of safety preparedness.
Can't you see the conflict in this line of reasoning? You can't have it both ways. Would you, on a sailing forum, personally encourage a cruiser with a single bluewater passage to do this trip at this time of year - not knowing anything more about him or the condition of his boat? I seriously doubt it.
And if things went bad for him on this trip and he had to call for rescue, would you then come back on the forum and say "Sometimes, the SHTF on this passage, there's not much anyone can do about it, it's really that simple :-)". Again, I seriously doubt it.
When you and others hold individual skippers to such a high standard and continually critique their perceived flaws (Snowbirds don't sail they motor, judging by this pic they're not prepared, they should have never been out there in the first place, they call this safe?, they rely on electronics too much, etc.) - then you should hold everyone, including rally organizations, to that same standard. If you don't, then you're allowing the rally organization to essentially say this "seamanship stuff" is not really that important as they undercut it. Do you really believe it is not that important?
The only way I can reconcile so much resistance to this notion of rally organizers having ISAF (or equivalent) as the safety standard, or at least upping the entry requirements to ensure adequate experience - is that you guys, as experienced skippers, just can't stand the thought of ANY form of outside regulation (though you personally hold the skipper to very high "regulations" yourself). I guess I understand that from a political perspective. But it sure does twist your logic.
In any rally there is no doubt that each skipper is required to make his or her own call as to their departure and all other decisions during a rally.
However, some of the stories coming back from the US Coast Guard accounts and even from the sailors themselves makes one wonder whether some sailors were less than well prepared for the conditions, with several sounding a distress and then withdrawing their call.
Two of the survivors, Bruce Grieshaber and Becky Meinking, who had sold all their worldly possessions to purchase a boat and sail away to the Caribbean, told media outlets that they had 'they trained extensively with the Salty Dawg Rally organizers before setting sail', implying that they were inexperienced sailors and hence ill-prepared for such a first journey.
They, with two other crew, were aboard the 41ft sailboat, Ahimsa. They sent out a distress signal via a satellite tracking device, stating they were taking on water 230 miles east of Virginia Beach and were in need of assistance. At approximately 0130, all four crewmembers were rescued by a Jayhawk helicopter and taken to Air Station Elizabeth City.
The skipper Grieshaber later told Wavy.com how the boat was 'taking on too much water' and seemed to have a 'structural problem', caused by the waves. They radioed the rally network and then called the Coast Guard for help.
They were seasick. They were tired.