I'll buy that! Makes sense, but in the way of a followup question, I've always been schooled to stay aft to keep from burying the bow and creating more drag. Was I schooled wrong? As an aside, we're slightly bow-down (1") at the dock, without crew. So maybe I'm all set up!
On flat bottomed sleds, does the same hold true?
All race boats benefit from keeping weight in the right place for the given conditions. The downhill weight to the rear you describe is for higher winds and waves when keeping the rudder in the water is job #1. In light air as someone else mentioned, many boats like weight at the mast and out of the stern to get the 'rear' out of the water. Hiking to windward makes a very large difference on most boats. It makes a huge difference in being able to power up the headsail to get through chop, keeps the boat flatter and measurably faster, and allows more sail area, and until you're at theoretical hull speed upwind, every little bit helps. Weight to leeward in light air upwind is equally important, as is using crew weight to help gybe and tack the boat with as little rudder movement as possible. It's faster. If a boat length or two doesn't matter to the skipper, then he/she's a rock star with blazing boat speed, or heading a program that just isn't going to be very competitive in a good fleet. Good preparation, good starts, good trim/sail handling, good driving, quick gear changes (including getting crew weight in the right place), and good tactics win races. When any of the above are lacking, at the best, you'll be wildly inconsistent in your results, but most likely, you're not going to in the running for the pickle pickle dishes at all.