In curiosity, upwind when puffed you say you ease the sheet first, then head up if that isn't enough.
I work that backwards - head up (because that helps me get where I'm going, and immediately reduces heel.
I only dump the main if for some reason I can't head up.
I've found the traveller to be my #1 tool for reducing average heel (not puff's, just constant). Keeping the boat as upright as possible lets me keep the top of my sail in the best wind and keeps weather helm at bay.
Tight flat sheets are better working to wind in heavy winds, fuller sheets for lighter winds, outhaul, cunningham, vang and halyard all have parts to play. I do the outhaul last because I need to maintain power to tack, speed is not normally an issue on my boat but power is (multihull's are different). If you sail in chop you'll want the power over speed also.
The only time I adjust my backstay is when flying my screacher in light air, for a fuller shape I'll ease it, or tighten it to point higher, otherwise it stays set for my main keeping draft working for me to provide power not speed.
I use the traveller to correct twist, as I don't have a vang - I've considered them and decided not to install one as I have enough going on with dual centerboards and such.
Gybing is all about the boat, I've never worked a Soling so have not one word of useful advice except watch your frigging head.
I sail broad reaches rather than dead down wind, it's faster (and safer) for me by a long shot.
Crew for someone in your club and ask questions.