Whatever the Colregs say, there is one immutable rule. "Fibreglass gives way to steel".
Having grown up sailing and having raced in the Solent over the last 25 years I can confirm that a high % of sailors have never even heard of the colregs / think that everything gives way to sail / assume that all sail gives way to those racing...
the chaos when we had the Coastguard and a rib running an exercise winching in a chap from the rib - straight through our race off Ryde - was a joy to watch
I am totally not a supporter of needing qualifications for sailing (other than the sudden influx of lots of very cheap yachts it would produce!) - however more can be done by race organisers to ensure that skippers are aware of all hazards in the race area (it won't come from the skippers!) - and the need to avoid - there is often an assumption that the skippers have good local knowledge...
great that there was no loss of life though...