Newbies buying 1st sailboat
Something you should think about that is a negitive for the Beneteau 40.7 is the sail drive. The sail drive needs annual service out of the water. Us Californians are used to hauling the boat once every 3 or 4 years. I do like the Farr design however. I do not like the pan construction system used by Beneteau as it prevents access to the hull for cleaning, it does however provide for a very stiff hull.
I like the Jeanneau construction better but not the rig on the SO. The SF series are better. There are downsides to every design and it seems like they don''t build a boat that suits me perfectly for a price that is acceptable.
I have sailed on two boats with mast furling mains and neither one worked well. Both had poor sail shape and both were difficult to furl. It took much longer an was more work to reduce sail than a simple reef. Saves time not having to put on a sail cover but that is time you have to spare when you are done sailing. Don''t like the extra weight aloft either.
Good luck on your boat search. Look at as many boats as you can and sail on as many as you can. Agree with Jeff that small boat sailing is the best way to learn. Actually I think every one should sail an 8 foot dink once in a while.