Just a quick reply to this thread.
I own a 1986 Beneteau First 42, purchased in 2001 after extensive research and after looking at more than 30 different boats over a 3 year period. I am now a retired marine surveyor with more than 20 years experience looking at both new and damaged boats, both power and sail, and hold a USCG 100 ton Master's license.
I have sailed our boat very hard and have raced her extensively in conditions where many sailors would curl up and cry. To the Bahamas and back twice, to Mexico and back twice, to the Florida Keys and home many times, and both cruising and racing the west coast of Florida with a 6 foot 6 inch draft. We ran aground once surfing off a big wave at over 8 knots in the middle of a marked channel where the charts showed plenty of water. No damage. No leaks then or now except a little trickle at the through deck mast.
Last year we logged many hours under spinnaker on the way to Mexico with speeds from 10 to 12.9 knots. Big seas, big winds. The boat showed fingertip control at all times.
The boat still shows as near new and draws endless compliments from both power boaters and sailors alike. My wife and I love our Ocean Angel, would own no other boat, and have and will continue to trust her with our lives over and over again. In May 2008, we take her to Mexico once more, then on to Belize and hopefully, Guatemala.
Just my two cents. Do your homework and buy the boat that fits your needs