When you're sailing upwind (in close reach) and there comes a stronger blast of wind, how should skipper behave? Should they turn away from the wind (because modern yachts are constructed so that weather helm occurs in stronger wind and th skipper wants to prevent the boat from going into the wind and because the true wind accelerates, so the angle of apparent wind changes and moves more to the back, making the yacht sail more downwind tah before) or turn towards the source of wind (because the closer they get to the no-go zone, the slower will the yacht sail and on the edge of no-go zone yacht sail almost upwards, without the lean)?
If your concern is regarding broaching, then the two actions you take are:
- allow the head to come towards the wind, reducing the sideways force. This can be instant.
- if needed, slacken the main, depowering the sail. Unlike in a dinghy, where this can also be an instant move, in a yacht this is a bit slower.
But unless the wind suddenly increases and you have no chance to reef, this is not really a concern in a modern yacht. Your keel is actually very effective. Regarding reefing, your planning for that day or that leg of a trip should include wind strength and reefing sails accordingly.
In reality a yacht skipper should be continually using the wheel to steer to wind and wave conditions, in the same way a dinghy skipper should use the tiller and sheets continually.
Weather helm is designed in as a safety feature - it unpowers the sails. After the gust you can simply return to your original heading. If you don't mind increasing your list, you can always keep on the original heading through the gust - depends what your crew/guests feel comfortable with, really.
Generally, hold your course
If there isn't a directional change and the wind doesn't exceed your vessel's ability to carry it under your current sail configuration, don't change a thing. Benefit from the puff. If the puff is sustained, you may be able to point slightly higher (if that's desirable because your objective is further to windward than your course-made-good) and still maintain your best speed through the water if you are already at it.
On the other hand, if you're carrying too much sail for that amount of wind easing the sails to dump the excess air is indicated. If it is more than a mere burst, but a sustained increase, and an increase in excess of your vessel's current configuration, shorten sail.