Light airs and some fogginess greeted the fleet, my crew had already defected but these guys wanted to sail, so what the hell...
Being relegated to the role of race-starter and passive observer, I observed that the early starters threw away much of their lead by not being anywhere near the start-line when their gun went - in light airs you need to hang about nearby, not wander off in the opposite direction. This was why we started doing beach starts in the first place - there's less room for error.
You also need to let the kicker right off and pull a bit extra through to overcome the friction, otherwise your leech hooks to windward. Not letting the sail out far enough on the offwind legs is another killer.
Dave Merritt (new to the fleet in 2011) described his day thus:
The day started ominously for us. When moving down the ramp the sound of sloshing water could be heard coming from inside the boat. Closer inspection revealed around 4 gallons of water trapped in the hull! At least this explained the dismal performance of the boat on day 1 two weeks earlier (the reason for the water? - it turns out we have been sailing for 5 months without the front hatch cover on - not having seen the opening hiding behind the spinnaker bag!).
Race 1: managed to sponge out the water in time. Squandered our 1 minute head start due to using the wrong start box area. Jane and Pat quickly took the lead. We had a chance to regain the lead on the long haul from 'D' to 'K' but blew it after becoming confused about the course and sailing an unnecessary dogs leg. In the end were glad to finish second as the rest of the pack was closing in, only around 50 meters behind.
Race 2: Better start this time, maintained a lead up to 'H', then made the mistake of trying to fly the spinnaker on the close reach from 'H' to 'K' - Jane and Pat take the lead again. Round to 'OL' and then the long run up to 'P' via 'X'. Then a piece of good fortune - Jane and Pat forget to take in 'X' and only realize when well past. We sail into a healthy lead and manage to maintain this until the finish - our first win!
Bob Morris described the 2nd race in some detail from his perspective as a late starter:
The course was J, H, K, OL, X P all to port. Dave and Josh Merrit led until just after rounding H when they tried to fly their spinnaker on a very tight reach to K. It was too tight though and Jane and Pat Collison correctly two-sailed it to take the lead. However the Collisons then missed out X and tried to sail straight from OL to P. They realised their mistake and sailed back to X giving the Merritts a big lead.
The Merritts having learned from their previous mistake sailed very solidly and never lost their commanding lead. Meanwhile further back down the fleet. Helen and Paul were being chased by Bob sailing in John Tenney's boat. We caught up quite a bit but then Helen gybed on to port tack after rounding OL to keep clear of a bunch of Solos. Bob stayed on the same gybe and took a more direct route from OL to X. Some unexplained timewarp thing happened on the leg from OL to X and Helen doubled her lead.
Behind Bob, Mo also gybed on to port tack and also gained on Bob and was on Bob's transom by the time we got to P. Helen went hard right after rounding P and again pulled out an even larger lead on Bob who was now trying to cover Mo to no avail. Mo easily got past Bob and began to relentlessly close on Helen ahead.
By the final lap Helen was catching the Collisons who were starting to look very worried as it seems that they could have been caught and their hopes of a second Marriot Mug victory quashed. The Merritts were still looking comfortable for a win. Luckily for the Collisons the race was shortened at J giving the Merritts a satisfying win which they thoroughly deserved. The Collisons stopped holding their breath as they crossed the finish line to finish second.
Helen by now was having to loose cover Mo and Holly which she did to finish 3rd. Mo finished just behind Helen in 4th place. Meanwhile Pete Slack and Serena had caught up with Bob and John Tenney on the final beat. This put a bit too much pressure on this untried and tested helm and crew combination and after a fluffed tack, Bob crossed behind Pete. However all was not yet lost. Bob approached the finishing line on port tack. Pete crossed just in front but could not tack in Bobs water and although he tacked as soon as possible after crossing Bob, the momentum effect of two heavyweights kicked in to take Bob and John over the line in 5th with Pete just behind in 6th place
The results were pretty close, Pat and Jane won the series with 4 points, Dave and Josh were a close 2nd with 5 points, followed by Helen and Paul with 8 points.