I couldn''t agree more with Jeff_H regarding One-design. If there''s a decent fleet, its totally the way to go. The alternative is racing "P(erfectly) H(appy) to R(ace) and F(inish)!", which I''ve done, but if you really want to track your own progress tactically in addition to boat-handling, you gotta go One-design.
I raced a San Juan 24 one-design for 5+ yrs, and HIGHLY recommend them as a very sturdy, easy to sail, fun, and comfortable (I''m a little guy) boats. Designed by Bruce Kirby, and built in the 70''s/80''s, there are quite a few of them around. The J-24 has overrun them in many places as the 24''er to race, but the SJ crowd are great people (I''ve done the NA''s a couple times) if you''re near any of the fleets. If you''re interested, email me for more info.