Hey Greger...not sure about all the experts' advice on which boat is best for what purpose--need to ask those who who sail 'em and where've they gone in them! But here's a pretty good way of making comparisons, go to:
and you'll be able to make side by side comparisions between boats for a variety of factors, such as hull speed, motion comfort, capsize ratio, sail area, etc. For instance I'd compare a Bristol 32 over the Aloha 32 or Islander 32 Mk II based on her higher comfort ratio and lower capsize ratio if I were interested in passage making. On the other hand, both boats have a higher hull speed and more sail area than the Bristol 32. If you want to work offshore, you might like to look at:
This site calculates the Angle of Vanishing Stability--or how far over she can heel and still right herself....
Not everyone like comparison charts, especially if the boat they tout comes off second-best, but they are a great way to get a feel for the similarities and differences!
ah to be single and have a $35-40k budget for a boat!!!