For the cost of a round trip ticket to Horta in the Azores you could get a closeup look at a lot of boats that have had to sail at least 1,000 miles of open Atlantic to get there. (It's also a very nice place to visit, so you can't lose.)
I haven't done a statistical analysis of the boats there (although I think Jimmy Cornell and, earlier, Eric Hiscock have done something of the kind) but I have walked the docks a lot on my three trips there. There is probably an example of every sort of sailboat that will confirm ones prejudices about what makes a good offshore boat--from small catamarans to beefy motorsailers to 19th century gaffers.
If there is one characteristic that seems proponderant (though by no means universal) it is displacement. There are light displacement boats to be sure, but they tend to be larger boats so their actual displacement (rather than than their displacement as a percentage of their length) is still fairly high. In boats less than 40', heavy displacement seems to be favored.
The category that seems to be under represented is the otherwise ubiquitous 35-40' production sloop from Beneteau, Hunter, Jeanneau, etc. This could be for a number of reasons: they are fairly recent so fairly expensive; they are not optimized for ocean sailing--but then neither are a lot of other boats there; they are new and so distrusted by sailors who are by nature a conservative lot; or their formula of maximum internal volume, high initial stability and small underwater lateral plane is not favored by ocean sailors.
Maybe someone should hire the folks at MidAtlantic Yacht Services in Horta to conduct a survey of the boat types over the course of a couple of years to see where the ocean cruisers are putting their money. Although the result might not be a useful analysis but more like a laundry list of sailors' opinions and prejudices.
Fuller disclosure department: my own boat (see photo below at Gibraltar) was not designed as a dedicated offshore cruiser nor bought by me for that purpose. It seemed to me then (and still does seem to me) to be a versatile boat for offshore and coastal cruising and even some friendly racing. And I like the way it looks. How you quantify that in a survey, I don't know.
Last edited by Nottoway; 12-10-2007 at 05:01 PM.