RE: the whole life jacket thing
Ummmm..... you are young.
Next time you see all the other sailors on 5.0-5.8 rigs, that should tell you something.
Staying on your 6.6 m2 when all the other sailors are on < 6.0 is probably not a good idea.
The symptons you experienced today are dlassic signs of being WAAAAY overpowered.
Hope this helps,