Recommendations on a 22 - 26 ft weekender?
From where I sit I think that difference between a slow boat and one that can "get out of it''s own way" obviously depends on the size of the boat, but for two approximately equal length boats, I would say that the difference between the two would be PHRF rating difference somewhere between 30 and 90 seconds a mile with 40 to 50 seconds being very significant in the way boat feels to sail or the distance run in a typical day.
Before you sit there, do the math, and conclude that at 40 seconds a mile after a 20 mile sail that means the faster boat is only 13 or so minutes faster, I want to explain why a 30 to 90 seconds a mile is significantly faster than that in real sailing conditions.
The PHRF is calculated at the average prevailing windspeed for a given region. This is typically around 10 to 12 or so knots of wind. At that windspeed there is far less difference in speed between a lighter faster boat than a more traditional design. Both are moving pretty close to hull speed and the light boat doesn''t have the break away speed that typically happens in higher wind ranges. But in windspeeds somewhat below or above this average windspeed the faster boat will often have a major speed advantage.
(For example, there was a Cape Dory 28 in the same class as my Laser 28. The CD was well prepared and seemed to be exceptionally well sailed. The Laser 28 owed the CD 28 about 84 seconds a mile. In moderate winds, I might only beat them by as little as 10 seconds a mile over my rating (i.e. 94 seconds a mile). In lighter air (0-5 knots), I typically beat them by as 20 to 40 minutes a mile over my rating. In heavier conditions, I typically beat them by as much as 1 to 2 minutes a mile over my rating.
In cruising with the CD28, that meant that typically sailed to where ever we were rafting up and they typcially motored a substantial portion of the way and still got in after us.)
My recollections of sailing in Maine was that the conditions were very changeable from extremely light to quite breezy, with little in between, and the currents were quite brisk. A 40 to 60 second a mile difference in speed would often make the difference between being able to sail through one of these high current areas and making it through into areas with slower currents versus not being able to buck the tide, meaning either motoring through, or else hours of sailing barely stemming the flow or not stemming the flow at all, or, where posible, sailing a greater distance to avoid the worst currents.
Beyond all of that, the original post indicted that ''awatson'' had done a good deal of one-design racing and powerboating. That suggests that awatson might be a fellow believer that ''fast is fun''. If ''fast is fun'' is a priority in life, then sailing a boat like the Renegade (phrf 256-254)just would not be as much fun as some of these boats that rate down in the PHRF 171 to 200 range.