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Pretty interesting discussion. Let me add my own 5 cents.
Back in the 70ies I learned sailing in the rough waters of the Northsea, out of Germany, with boats from 27' - 38'. I had to cope with 30kn wind and more against tidal currents of 5kn, and water temperatures in the 30ies/low 40ies (in summer). In preparation and since I was young, I read all I could get about circumnavigation, heavy weather sailing (Adlar Coles and Bernard Moitessier come to mind), seamanship, and I always followed the advice of the great French sailor Eric Tabarly: go out when the others stay in. Prepare your boat well, because you know what to expect. And I did that. Now, everyone has his/her personal threshold. If 25kn seems to be a lot for you, go out in 25 kn and try out how your boat works and behaves under different scenarios, don't do it with your little children and your family pet though. Heave to, use a sea anchor, run before the wind. Reef in, reef out. Reef in your jib and reef out your main, and/or vice versa. Thereafter and if you performed to your satisfaction, go to the next level, go out with 30kn wind and so on and so forth. Just not, when it becomes a life threatening excercise. I wouldn't want to practise in a Hurricane, but I did in a tropical storm and in the Gulfstream, after I bought my Moody 41 some years ago. But then again, this is everybodies' own choice, i.e. the maximum wind speed for practising. I just want to be prepared when the 'big one' hits me, which is just a question of time.
My philosphy is, I am not scared of the sea, but I respect her very much - and I hope I am prepared.
As to the right tactics? Well, there is no "one fits all" answer. It very much depends on the type of boat, size, keel form, weight, mast height and it is always recommendable to have a plan....
SY "Sail La Vie"
fair winds and following seas