I suuppose you get HARD when the VOR commercial gets to the point of 'be prepared to pay the ultimate price'. I honestly think the crew woud love to sail HARD in gale storm winds, because they can trust their ship not to break up. But they cant, they have to take the pedal from the metal as soon as the wind hits 25kn. For an ocean race, this is ridiculous.
At a given point you'll have to reef, and slow down because of the sea-state. This is a big difference between in-shore and off-shore sailing: at some point you have to take care of the boat. Seamanship to round the Horn involves dealing successfully with boat-breaking conditions, by escaping them or whatever. It's not reasonable to expect an indestructible off-shore racing boat. May be with new materials in 50 years, but not now. With multi-hulls, capsizing or pitch-poling usually states the limit, but they break too. Mono-hulls do forgive more if you wait a bit too much to take a reef, but you can break them too.
As some one commented, the amount of breakage is worrisome, but the boats have been patched, limped to port and repaired.
This is a race in which this happens all the time and the boats have to go to the starting point of the next leg carried because a hull failure half the previous.
Either the boats are not up to specifications or the crew is pushing beyond those. I think is the later, as the conditions they have endured have been quite tough.
In any case they are pushing beyond the boats limits and breaking them. Breaking the boats, not the limits.
If you could not retire from a leg and repair for the next, if only the "suspend" option was available and not finishing a leg would mean out of the race, then, maybe, they would be more careful with the boats.
I don't think that a little bit stronger boats will prevent this: crew will just push a little bit more trying to win ... or break.
It happens all the time at the Jules Verne trophy: Orange 2, Groupama 3, Banque Populaire 5 to name just the last 3, ALL had to retire in previous tries because something broke before completing the tour. Normally in the first half, with boat loaded of food. They went back, repaired, and tried again.