Originally Posted by StuM
What he said! Weight on the the bow costs speed. The bowman should go forward when he has a need to, the rest of the time he is front man on the rail and behind the mast
And the place to call a leeward boat from if the helm
can't see it is down in the pit, peering under the headsail (other than in the pre-start where the bowman should be up front calling the line as well as close boats).
Another +1. You can see far enough to leeward to call out from your position on the rail. You should only be on the bow before the start and when you have a job to do. As the front guy on the rail, you should be watching to leeward, but also forward for crab/lobster pots, seaweed, logs
Having said all that, you need to be comfortable getting out of the way if you're on the foredeck doing your job and the skipper needs to tack. It's dangerous to try to run back.
I've never been on a boat where I couldn't step around the forestay while holding onto the forestay and facing aft. It's also safe and easy to just lie down and let the sail brush over you if you're further back.
You have three safe zones: Between the mast and shrouds (clew can't hit you) and aft of the lazy sheet (lazy sheet is your biggest hazard); lying on the deck
; forward of the forestay. You should be comfortable with all three.