First, the mistake - a totally unnecessary DFL start. Set up nicely luffing and waiting, watching our best sailor to see what he was doing - same as me, luffing on starboard and waiting. Then, about 30 seconds to go, I bore away. Not because there were 30 seconds to the line but simply because I saw another boat doing so. Not the best sailor, but another one. Instead of remaining focussed and going ahead with my own plan, I listened to some primordial instinct screaming at me - "Go, Go - that boat is bearing off so it must be time for you to do so. Can't you see? Someone else is doing something different, so you must be wrong in what you are doing!" So, I gave in to the panicked nonsense and it got me to the line with 15 seconds to spare. With a herd of charging starboard tackers behind me and the pin almost upon me, I had to gybe around and cross behind the starboard tackers as they crossed the line leaving a ton of dirty air for my benefit. Not a glorious moment.
Now for the good part. I played a gybe mark very well and got the best of a sailor who often beats me. We were sailing almost directly downwind on starboard and I was to windward and even with him. It became clear that he would enter the zone overlapped inside me. So, about 5 or 6 boat lengths before the mark I came up to get a little room, then gybed, which slowed me down enough so that as soon as I gybed on to port I came up to gain a little extra speed and was able to go behind him and overlap him before the zone. Calling for water, I easily passed him and, having already gybed, rounded the mark onto the new broad reach without slowing down. He had to come up to give me room and then gybe. I gained at least 3 boat lengths. It felt good.