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Your boat has a water ballasted drop keel, right?
Best for such a lightweight boat is to pull the keel up a bit, so that when going downwind and hit with a gust the boat will 'skid' a bit instead of having the keel 'bite' which causes increased heeling moment if the keel turns 'any direction' not parallel to the boats movement direction.
For downwind sailing in gusts, go 'down' in the gusts and 'up' in the slows .... and the most important is to KEEP THE BOAT DIRECTLY **UNDER** THE MAST; dont head up or you ARE going to heel over quite a bit. Since this is a relatively lightweight boat bearing off and going down will result in the boat starting to come on a plane .... "Nantucket Sleighride" so be prepared for some 'bodaceous' boat speed.
Pulling the drop-keel up will aid in the boat's ability to 'automatically' skid-off to a more 'downwind' attitude/direction. If the board/keel is all the way down you have increased risk of 'tripping over the keel' and then going into a 'broach'; if the board/keel is 'up' or partway 'up' you will instead 'skid' a bit instead of grossly heeling over.
Last edited by RichH; 10-19-2010 at 12:44 PM.