If you are racing and wish to (or are asked to) retire then you should switch to spectator mode by pressing Escape key (default) to bring up the game menu and then clicking on "Spectator Mode" in the list of options presented.
You should retire from racing if
- you must go AFK for whatever reason
- you have finished but the game is not automatically switching you to spectator mode. This can happen if you missed the rounding of one or more marks.
- all other boats have finished and you are such a long way behind that it is seems unreasonable to expect the majority of skippers to wait for you to finish
- the host asks you to retire or "go spec"
The game will automatically retire your boat once you have accumulated 3 penalties.
Chat while in spectator mode Edit
Although you can chat with racing skippers while in spectator mode be aware that those skipper may be focused on the control of their boat. There is nothing quite so annoying to a racing skipper as needing to change course or change sail due to a wind shift or a right-of-way boat and being unable to do so because you find your cursor is in the chat input box!
Joining a server in spectator mode Edit
From the online lobby you may find a race is almost 100% complete and so you decide to join that server for the next race. If there are no racing vacancies then there may be a spectator vacancy so you can join as spectator and hope for a racer to leave the server as they finish the current race. Just be sure to watch for a departing racer and immediately press Esc then toggle spectator mode to fill in the vacated racer spot. If the radio button is green you are in spectator mode. If it is gray then you are still in spectator mode but, you have joined the racing skippers who have already finished the current race.