Re: "Modern" Dinghies
One of the major reasons for having a dinghy is to be able to race it against others. This makes having the one and only "VX23y" in 100 miles somewhat pointless, even if it might be fun to sail on occasion. If you're in SoCal, what sorts of boats are being sailed where you are? The Marina Del Rey Dinghy Club has pictures of Lasers, Optis, 420's and (perhaps?) an International 14. Alamitos Bay YC shows fleets of Snipes, Moths, Lido14's, 505's, Vipers, and Finns, among others. I've found the 505 a bit more stable than Thistles, and faster. Fleets of existing boats will have used ones for sale and you will possibly be able to test-sail them before taking the plunge. Research what's already in your own backyard first. You're more likely to find boats that suit local conditions better, and which will satisfy you more in the long run, than suggestions on the fly from people thousands of miles away.