That's right. It is tricky to depower the main when sailing off the wind. It's good that you've noticed this, Eric.
When sailing upwind, we are more apt to recognize that the wind is building and we are overpowered. Sailing well off the wind, a building breeze is more likely to catch us off guard since we are going with it and it all seems fun. But then we begin to feel the boat overpressed, and the wind wants to round us up, and things begin to feel a bit out of control.
Faster described a few techniques for depowering the main if you're caught with too much canvas up. Be sure to rig a preventer (if you don't know what a preventer is yet, search the archives here at Sailnet) before bringing the mainsail in much for depowering. Another way to depower is to ease the vang and let the boom lift up a bit.
But the best way to depower is -- as Faster mentioned -- to reef down the mainsail. You may also need to reduce the size of your headsail if the wind builds enough. Generally though, a bit too much headsail will not be as much of a problem when sailing downwind. It's usually an overcanvassed mainsail that sets the boat squirrelly.
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Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31 #62
NEVER CALLS CRUISINGDAD BACK....CAN"T TAKE THE ACCENT