Today we had our race further out, in more open water than we normally sail in. We had wind against tide and so the waves were also more than we usually have. It was an excellent learning experience for most of us.
I intentionally set myself the goal of doing things deliberately and in no haste and while I finished in the bottom half of the fleet, I did not capsize once (a number of boats did capsize) and I handled the waves well. Not well in the sense of using them to gain speed - although I had several exhilarating surfs downwind - but well in the sense of keeping my cool and not letting fear/panic take over at any point. I gybed successfully, even remembering to try to gybe coming down waves because the apparent wind is less. One key was to sheet well in before starting the gybe.
So, all in all a good day - confidence restored. Now I need to learn better how to beat into waves. I was going too straight, having too many waves crash into me, slowing me considerably and filling up the cockpit to boot. I need to learn how to bear off and come up in time with them better.
I also experimented with footing a bit and that seemed to help. I was having trouble overtaking another boat until I tried footing and it worked well - I was crashing less into waves and easily caught up and then passed him.