Recommendations on a 22 - 26 ft weekender?
There are a lot of options here. It would be helpful if you mentioned a budget but focusing on the "needs to be able to get out of it''s own way" and "people who have done a good deal of one-design racing" I suspect you are probably looking for something faster and more modern than a Pearson Rebel.
Beneteau First 235,
These are really neat little daysailor overnighters. They came in a number of versions including a fixed fin keel, swing keel and shoal draft fixed keel with twin rudders. Very nicely detailed boats that sail quite well.
Capri 25: These are not the best built boats in the world but they sail very well and can often be purchased quite cheaply.
J-22: I''m bound to get pounded on this one but the early ones had a nice sized vee berth and small head and galley unit as an option. These are more daysailors than weekenders but they are a lot of fun to sail.
J-24''s are common as dirt and can be found quite inexpensively in non-racing condition.
I had one of these and really liked it. Pretty spartan down below but fun for a couple to spend weekends on. You need to find one with a head in the forward compartment and both of the galley modules (sink and stove tables) which is actually pretty rare but easy to build.
Pearson 26 and Pearson 26 one design. Reasonably good sailing boats near the bottom end of what I would consider "get out of it''s own way" territory.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for these boats. They sail well and had decent accomodations for a boat this size. I always figured that if short of cash, and had to own a boat in the worst way, I would probably buy one of these. In fact even if I wasn''t short of cash just wanted a small simple mess about I''d probably look for one of these.
Neat little dagger board boats. They offer excellent sailing ability and the ability to trailer. Usually they are quite cheaply priced. Here''s a reputedly nice one. http://trailersailor.com/forums/classifieds/index.cgi?read=13589
See my comments on the Kirby 25.
Nicely rounded little designs built in a range of options from out and out racer to nice little weakender version. Available with fixed fin keel or a daggerboard.
Ok so its not the most comfortable boat but what a neat little daysailor overnighter.
Lunchtime is over but that should get you started.