Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd
The key is balance. It sounds like you were unbalanced. Too much sail forward, and none aft.
I would have flown the smallest jib, and reefed the main to it's smallst dimension. This would place the center of effort where it belongs instead of all the way forward, generating the lee helm.
You mentioned not wanting to dip the rail in the water by raising the main. If you're getting knocked down, you're sheeted in too hard. Either play the mainsheet when the puffs come, or feather up into the wind. Or both.
The boat will remain on it's feet, with the proper amount of weather helm.
It's always choice and mostly preference to sail with the angles of heel I enjoy most. Whenever a gust should come or I simply feel over powered it only takes a split second to snap out the main sheet and bank her into the wind (Unless I was running away of course).