Re: handling gusts
Maybe he thought you were heading off the wind, in which case he'd be right. Heading off going downwind, though it won't cause the sails to luff, will help the boat go faster. This will reduce the apparent wind, making it easier to handle the puff, since it will seem relatively less strong. Heading down in a puff when going downwind also spreads the heeling moment of the sails along the boat's entire length, instead of the beam- so you'll heel less. On a sailboat, what's right always depends upon the way you're pointing and the way the wind is blowing, and it changes all the time.