Would help if you said what make/model of boat it was. Some boats, due to their design, have inherent problems with certain points of sail. It would also help if you said what sails you had up.... The behavior of a boat will change with different sails.
In 20 knots of wind, you should probably have de-powered the sails as much as possible... Also, it sounds like you didn't have the sail plan very well balanced, and that may have contributed quite a bit to your problem.
BTW, how badly heeled was the boat... some boats, once they heel past a certain point will just round up, and because you're heeled over so much, the rudder doesn't have enough of a grip on the water to make a difference.
Without knowing what boat you are sailing and what sails you had rigged, it is hard to say whether you had too much sail up or not. Some heavier 35' boats won't need to reef in only 20 knots of wind, others will need to reduce sail a bit.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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