I went out in my Pearson 26 this morning. Winds were 15-20 kts when we headed out and made a comfortable 5 kts speed with a genoa and mainsail up. The wind was out of the south and when we got to the far side of the lake, I turned to the south and set a course as close to the wind as I could. We were making about 3 knots on a close reach, when all of a sudden the boat heeled about 45 degrees and I was fearful we'd capsize. I released the main sheet and turned directly into the wind and we righted just fine.
After letting my heart rate slow down, I headed off in the same direction and again was making good speed on a close reach and it happened again. This time I over reacted a bit and we ended up nearly going in a full circle when I went hard alee with tiller.
We flurled the genoa and finished our trip home only under mainsail as I felt that I was a bit over powered for my novice level. We're scheduled for our first ASA sailing course in 4 weeks and probably have 12-14 hours of sailing experience under my belt.
Any suggestions as to what I was doing wrong? I think it must have been gusts of wind all of a sudden out of the south east but don't really want to do that too often!