As a fairly new member of SSS I don't have the perspective of having less stringent rules in the past. When I became interested in SSS events and joined, I started looking to prep my boat with the required safety equipment. Yes, the list is long and expensive but I have been picking away at it.

I am also starting with a new to me boat this year, Nightmare. Many items transferred from the old boat, PFDs and handheld VHF, and many things needed to be addressed and upgraded masthead antenna, securing items, lifelines, secure hatch.

I accept these things need to be done if I am going to race outside the Gate. Period.

I want to be as safe as I can, my wife likes that, and be able to render assistance if needed, which is what the MERs are about. Realizing some items are geared towards a crewed boat, they can still be useful if you witness or are near a MOB situation.
If I fall overboard and forget to push the MOB button on the GPS and grab the DanBouy on the way over, I hope you have yours handy!

Relaxing the rules for one race, for a few people, is a not a good idea. I think it will only invite further contention in other situations / races. Just look at what happened with the "one design" issue.

Predicting HMB race to be easy with mild conditions is not a good idea.
We should never assume to "know" the weather / sea state. This could be the year a freak storm rolls in for HMB.

Suck it up. Prep your boat. Be safe.