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Old 10-19-2010
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The usual approach when sailing downwind is to drive down in gusts, not turn up. This helps to reduce the apparent wind, and keeps you heading in the intended direction. Turning up increases the effect/strength of the gusts, and generally results in a difficult-to-control, hurly burly of flogging sails.

[When sailing upwind, close hauled, you do the opposite, because turning just a few more degrees to windward spills air from the sails.]

If you find that driving down in the gusts still feels very pressed and difficult to control, then you are likely over-canvassed. It is easy for a building breeze to catch you unawares when sailing downwind, as the apparent wind can fool you.

In really puffy conditions, with enough breeze deep behind you, you can reef the main way down or forego it completely. The genny can pull you downwind very nicely without any help from the main.

Also, I did not hear any mention of the preventer being rigged. If that's the case, I can certainly understand your concern about an accidental jibe. In these conditions and this point of sail, you should always have a preventer rigged.
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