There was water involved on all 3 birds in the first series of the Open--much more water than many 4th series field trials. The flyer was shot across a 20 yd swim (channel), the short retired was across a 15-20 yard swim (channel), and the long retired had 2 water entries to reach the area of the fall. 87 dogs got to run water marks!
I wasn't at the trial so I couldn't say for sure but Vicki's comments just supported what I wrote. All 1st series were land marks across a channel and 4th series marks were on land.
I just thought with dog numbers down a long swim or boat bird might be used
or even decoys. It seems that the difficulty of the trial mechanics that the boat or birds in the water aren't as much in use as they use to be.
My co-judge & I feel the dogs were adequately tested on water!
It was not just "a" channel. For the long memory bird, there was at least 40-60 yards of swimming with a double entry into the water. Many dogs failed to reach the long retired bird because they would not re-enter the 2nd piece of water.
Yes, there was a "marsh" available. It would not produce extraordinarily long swims either because of visibility issues & overgrowth on the back side of the marsh coupled with the marsh looking like a technical training pond.
Ask the folks who finished the trial & I'm sure they will tell you the difficulty factors, plus the courage factors were present.
FYI. Most retrievers can swim. It's not how far they swim, but how well they know where the birds are located when they go swimming. I personally do not like to watch dogs do the backstroke for several hundred yards just to see if they are in extreme condition.
The first series began on water to add a difficulty factor to the test. It worked! The land blind took a toll, as did the water blind. With only 13 dogs remaining, a land quad was appropriate and represented another fair test of marking ability.
As I said before. I've run many field trials that did not have as much water in them as the ones at Mid-Iowa. Perhaps, Richard, you should observe first hand before critiquing a test. When you judge, I'm sure you will be able to do water marks to your personal satisfaction. But....I will guarantee that there will be at least one, if not several who will not like what you do!