Trying to improve in 2 areas: puffs/gusts & gybing
I've been trying to improve my skills in two specific areas/conditions:
1) Dealing with the main sheet during a puff/gust. On last Saturday I was out and was dealing with some really strong gusts. Sustained winds were 10-15 knots and gusting to maybe 25 knots or so. We were single reefed (only one set of reefing points) and had the jib 20% furled or so.
So, when traveling upwind when getting a major gust I have been immediately letting out the mainsheet to dump wind and control my heel. If that's not enough I'll try and head up towards the wind to further control the boat. The question I have it often times when I do both of these things the mainsail is simply not happy and can luff or flog a bit. Obviously this is very noisy and bad for the sail.
What can I do to depower a bit, control my heel, and have the mainsail be quiet?
2) Gybing is still somewhat of a pain for me. I am wondering what your procedure is for gybing. Here's what I've been doing:
1) switch sides of the boat
2) sheet in the main sail
3) use knee to slight push tiller
4) as soon as the boom goes over immediately release the main sheet to avoid rounding up, etc.
What do you think? Any smoother way to do this or is all in the practive.