The weather forecast predicted that winds would reach 17+ knots by 4 PM. At our 3 PM briefing this definitely looked exagerrated with winds of 10 to 12. However by around 4 PM the forecast proved to be accurate and some of our less experienced sailors were struggling and one of the experienced sailors saw his gooseneck rivets give way as he hardened up rounding a mark.
As the wind picked up, our safety RIB was helping one Laser which had drifted close to a rocky shore and on the Committee Boat we saw three other boats capsizing in quick succession and the one without a gooseneck drifting toward the beach. We easily made the decision to abandon the race and spent the next hour helping various boats until all were safely home.
What could we have done better? We should have spent some time before the briefing going over contingency plans for higher winds, which is the normal policy - we neglected this since the forecast seemed to be overstated. Wrong. We tested the walkie-talkies we use for communicating between the CB and RIB and verified that they were fully charged, but it would have been better to keep them closer to hand on the water to faciliate communication. Finally, at the last minute we forgot to load the boarding ladder on the CB and this made it harder to bring people on board from the water.
Overall a reminder that safety and preparedness must remain the top priority.