Gamblers long distance

This race is always a fun race.
If you are looking for a fun race during the season take this format.
In short: you are given a course at the time of briefing. You have 10 minutes to guess how long it will take you to do the course. Finishing time is 4pm, starting time depends on how long you think you will be sailing. (more here)

The course this year was 21 NM. Wind force 5. Waves height 1,5 meters. Wind direction 5°.
(the white line is approx. 6.8 NM. The black arrow is the wind direction).

We started at 2.20 pm (last boat). Our initial guess was 2.10, but I got persuaded by another team to go for 2.20. :-)

After 5 minutes on the beat we (me and my dad) saw that getting to the first mark in 30 minutes was impossible... Or we would have to sail fast on the half wind legs or someone had to do something wrong if we still wanted to win.

45 minutes of heavy seas later we got to the 1st mark. To our surprise we saw the 2 F18's - that had started 10 and 20 minutes before us - sailing just in front of us. (all the others left even earlier and even with the penalty we could get for finishing late we would still be in front of them. The 2 teams just in front were the ones to get!)

The line from mark 1 to mark 2 was a terrible one. The line we had to sail was about 15 to 20 degrees off from a spinnaker leg. This got everyone stuck in a no spinnaker, heavy wind, high waves 20 minutes of sailing. The F18 slighty gained on us as we were slowed down because the bow digged into the waves at times. We tried to speed up as much as possible as the boat didn't pitchpole at all. If the nose went in, it nicely came up again, but at a loss of speed ofcourse.
To make it worse an ocean container cargo passed us at 500 meters giving us even bigger waves right from the side.

The leg from mark 2 to 3 was more our cup of tea. First we surfed down the big waves to "calmer" waters. Once there we could sail almost half wind, bearing away and making lots of speed in the gusts. By the time we got to the 3rd mark we passed an F18 and were right behind the other.

Now we were very close to shore and the waves were a lot shorter at the same height there. The first half we played it safe and didn't trap out. We could keep up with the boat in front but didn't come any closer neither.
The second half I decided to trap out in an all or nothing attempt to catch the leaders. Slowly we gained some ground, but way to little to catch them before the finish line.

The time we finished behind them was going to be multiplied by 3 as a penalty. We started 20 minutes after this team, so if we were 6 minutes or earlier behind them we would win, otherwise they would....

And we were just 5 minutes behind! Yes!