Re: handling gusts
If sailing closehauled, if your boat has a fractional rig and a readily adjustable backstay, you may wish to trim the backstay in anticipation of the puff. The twisted head of the mainsail will cause your boat to fall off. When the gust hits the resultant heeling will bring your boat back to the closehauled course. After the puff, ease the backstay adjuster. This will keep your boat driving without the loss of speed that you experience if you luff.
If you've have draggable genoa sheet cars, easing them aft before the puff hits will twist the genoa which will also cause your boat to fall off.
Avoid cranking on the helm to bear off. This slow you down and further increase the heeling moment when the puff hits