Different take on the first boat
While reading all these posts about people looking for their first boat, I always wonder if the posters end up doing the kind of sailing they thought they would. Many of them are searching for relatively deluxe boats as their first ownership experience assuming that their sailing life will be what they imagined. I know that my plans changed after I bought my boat, and would like to offer this:
Many people don't hold on to boats for very long anyway, so, while figuring out what you need, why not buy a boat designed for racing? They tend to be simpler inside, have a more intriguing rig, and a smaller price tag. They can be fun to learn to sail well on, can usually accomodate some short cruising, and give you time to decide what kind of sailing will actually be happening before spending the much bigger bucks on a more complicated boat. They tend to be set up to be sailed by a crew, as mine was, but minor adjustments can fix that. You can find them as stripped out hulls and including some minor sleeping arrangements, so they can be a way to get into fun sailing without spending the big bucks before you know how to spend them.