Thanks for sharing the experience. I too like to test things in strong conditions. This summer rented a boat (not a W) and hired an instructor especially for this purpose… Had a chain of troubles happen on the second day, but thanks to everyones experience and calm attitude (especially the instructor’s) things were sorted out without much damage and we finally had a great sail.
Did you have the genoa up or the small jib? If you had a genoa that would have been the first thing to replace if conditions looked like there might be some reefing needed.
I too experienced the boat fall broadside to wind when it was supposed to stay hove to (under jib and reefed main). Perhaps beyond some wind strength some procedures don’t work any more as in the books?
And by the way, I’ve found sailing under main only to be a bad thing. Foresail only yes – if there’s searoom downwind.
P.S. One of the most experienced and renown W cruisers started as a kayaker before getting himself into sailing…