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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
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More sheet/vang on the main and the traveller eased off would likely have helped quite a bit... you could well be right that the #3 is in rough shape, too round an entry and therefore quick to luff as the boat is pinched up (try the jib car a hole or two aft to flatten the foot and let some upper leech twist away to depower.)
Finding that "groove" where you have drive without excessive heeling is a challenge in the heavier going, and especially so if the wind is shifty as well.
The good news is that if you are alert and ready for the gusts, the heading up that you do can chew up some distance to weather up the course and give you an overall better VMG. (we used to call this "survival pinching" - keep the boat on its feet, and after a few puffs find yourself an extra boatlength to weather on your nearest competitor)
The danger is pinching too hard, slowing down and possibly getting caught backwinded on the next shift (and/or doing an "autotack" - hove-to). Like everything about sailing, it's all about compromise and balance.