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"When the wind would gust the boat felt like it wanted to turn into the wind and I had to fight the tiller to keep us straight."

You just described weather helm. The boat DID want to turn into the wind, they're built to do that. With wind of 20-25kts, you probably should have reefed the main. You should also have dropped the traveler to leeward, if you have one. Either way, you would have felt the pressure ease up pretty much right away.
 
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