Actually, I had a little help - both
times it happened.
First time, I pitchpoled as I was jibing around to get ready for a start. The mast came out of the step - and almost through the trampoline. It took two of us to right it (turtled, dismasted boats are very
hard to right), and then I had to deal with the dismasting.
Once I cleaned up the mess, I got towed up to the signal boat (this was the 2005 North Americans); they cut a piece of a soda bottle for me to use as a bearing chip and pinned the forestay for me after I raised the mast. I could have tied the halyard to the mast rake adjusting line to do it myself, though. That's what I do when I rig the boat by myself. After the mast was back up, all I had to do was raise the sail again & I was ready to go for the next race - which I won.
All of this happened in 15+ kts of breeze and 2 ft. waves. This photo was taken right after the start of the second race. I'm the white sail - 52350:
The very next day, I was leading a race in light-ish air, rounded the leeward mark, sheeted in and BAM! - the bow tang bolt pulled out and down came the mast. This time, the mark boat was there with a screwdriver to put the bolt back in and pin the forestay for me after I stepped the mast.
A year later, the same bolt decided to pull out again. This time, I was by myself on a small lake, with most of the shoreline rocky. I spotted a patch of beach almost dead downwind from me, so I cleaned up the mess, stood up on the trampoline to provide some windage, and steered toward the beach. Unfortunately, the bolt had completely stripped out the aluminum plate embedded in the bow, so there was no way to restep the mast. Fortunately, the property owner was kind enough to tow me back to the launch area. I ended up epoxying the bolt in and thought I was set. No such luck.
In 2007 (at the North Americans in New York), I was leading the 1st race in 15+ kts when the same bolt pulled out again. It took a long time for me to get towed to shore (a lot of people were in trouble) and I missed the second race because of it. That probably cost me the championship.
This was about 2 minutes before it happened:
and this is about 45 minutes later - me on the beach fixing it (along with the other casualties):
I have since reinforced the the bows of my 14 under the deck lip so that the bridle attaches through the lip, like it does on the 16. This is the way new 14s are built.
Bottom line - dismasting is not the end of the world - especially on a 14.