I just took a look as well, I'd say you called it early.
With regards to the defenders it's not surprising, It's very difficult for people to change their beliefs, look how committed people are to their political beliefs for example. To those holding opposite beliefs it's hard to understand how any one could be so blind and perhaps even immoral.
As far as Walbridge supporters, I sometimes see the same thing on the professional side. For example I once sailed with captain blowhard, he had the outfit, the big booming command voice and he didn't know fuck all. People loved him, some at the office thought he was finest mariner ever. No experienced chief mate would sail with him however and the inexperienced ones would go elsewhere as soon as they figured it out. He's retied and to this day some of the office folks speak of him in reverent tones. One of the worse captains I have ever sailed with.
People tend to focus on a few skills, in the tall ship community evidently it's fussing with the sails, knowing arcane sailing terms and making obscure knots. The skill set required to stay safe is much broader and difficult for a neophyte to evaluate.