Cheers indeed! That could be quite the ride and of course freestanding tents do make far better kites ;) (especially those air-beam ones - think paragliders) But...
"* First of all, under those conditions a light-weight 'free-standing' tent is a useless concept. Most light-weight 'free-standing' tents are designed for very mild conditions, with little wind."
Not at all useless, especially if you have appropriate stakes. The BD line (as well as ID, Rab and Bibler(BD)'s similar models) are designed for alpine conditions. I would consider the classic I-tent design (along with siblings) as almost ideal for the above described circumstances because:
- can be set up from inside
- requires less anchoring (quality + quantity of stakes)
- smaller footprint for choosing
- less deflection and pull on stakes
- integrated fly + floor *key for best stability with least staking*
I have a well appreciated Hilleberg 3-pole hoopty (:P) that would not fare as well here for the simple reason that it's structure and wind-worthiness is dependent on a higher quantity and quality of stakes. It applies relatively more tensile pull on those stakes, especially at the windward guy-out points (because it doesn't have any inherent structure helping to ease the load. The same would apply for a 'mid, although to a slightly lesser degree. Case in point: I have been in a perhaps two similar situations as the OP with a Bibler Fitzroy and Tempest, respectively. Both times we only managed two decent anchor points yet my wife and I managed a comfortable night's rest. The tent structure did much of the work and our bodies helped weigh it down, along with the stakes keeping it low. Build up of snow (to a fairly generous extent) can actually be your friend here.
"* Second, the idea that you can pitch ANY tent under those conditions without (lots of) good stakes is just plain daft."
Given the conditions described by the OP: "The ground was complete sand/loose dirt, no rocks were to be found, with very little cover from the wind." I would rather have only a few very good (read: appropriate for the conditions - i.e. sand/snow stakes or deadmen) stakes with a tent that requires few rather than lots of mediocre (inappropriate for the conditions) anchors and a tent that requires many to stay upright. Sometimes it can be helpful to spread the load with lots of stakes, but other times, it can result in a zipper effect. This is a matter of tent design that seems to be often overlooked.
Ingenuity may be the order of the day under the circumstances (equipment included). Burying a section or two of trekking pole, backpack stay, sand-filled stuff sack, etc. could have made a tremendous difference, for example. However, I wasn't there and I'm sure that under the stresses of the moment, Craig did his best and perhaps better than me or others here would have - we'll never know. Hindsight? Well, that's what we are here for :)
[edited for spelling and strange computer anomaly that resulted in quadruple post]