It goes without saying that there were some VERY VERY VERY good dogwork there. (duh) I was absolutely amazed as I watched these old guys and gals dig out these "impossible" birds.
I've read before that on the weekend it's dog against dog, but at a Nat, it's dogs against the judges. Around series 5 or so, I started to notice applause. Not "golf clapping" but true cheering- horns honking and yelling- coming from the gallery and parking when a dog got through a test. I was very impressed, knowing that this SINCERE cheering was coming from fellow competitors. I think it says alot for the Nat Am Ret Club.
I don't know what the basis for the 2.5 minute hunt rule was, safety or otherwise. I can definitively say that in the 5th series especially I witnessed several dogs that had little or no hunts (straight out there, straight back) that still came back hot. The day was unseasonably warm and humid, long waits in the holding blinds and BIG HILLS. One dog in particular, I'm confident that had he not been picked up, would have went down before he got all the birds. That's my opinion anyway.
These judges liked to sluice. I think the dogs liked it too.