Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
Thanked 55 Times in 52 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Good telltales will help, but making "wind sense" become second-nature will come with more experience. After a while, the sensation of the wind on you face, or side or back of your neck will become more heightened. So don't worry, you're new at this and it will come in time as you keep at it.
Sailing downwind I think is less "intuitive" than close-hauled or reaching. You lack the feeling of the wind in your face, your own speed is now subtracted from the actual wind speed rather than added to it, so the "apparent" wind speed is less and things feel more "dead". Most people feel a little more agile on a broad reach anyway, you feel the wind coming across the boat a little more, and you're going faster. Racers often do this, then jibe onto the opposite broad reach, to keep up more speed in moderate air.
Try some broad reaching, then bear off onto a run occasionally, and you'll get the feel of it better. If you have trouble with jibes initially, remember you can always take the "long way around", by coming up into the wind, tacking, then bearing off to a broad reach on the new tack. I call this the "chicken jibe", and have done it often in heavy air.
This may be more than you asked about, but best of luck.
By the way, did that lee helm even out when you got more breeze?