Newbies buying 1st sailboat
While both the 36.7 and 40.7 can be raced, they are designed as genuine dual purpose boats. Because of the high quality deck hardware, and their fractional rigs, and tremendous stability, these are really very easy boats to sail. I race on a 40.7 that has just won the IMS Mid-Atlantics, and has won Key West and the Carribean Ocean Racing Triangle, but which also has been sailed something over 10,000 offshore short-handed and is used for family weekends. Shorthanded boats like these can get by with a lapper, which is small easy to handle jib and still have very good light air performance by any objective standard for a cruising boat. Obviously under full sail in a strong wind these boats require a large crew, but for the kind of thing that you would be doing you would probably never set use the genoa. As you get more experienced these boats actually have a pretty docile spinacker for a 40 footer.
There is mythology that boats that can be raced are harder to sail than cruisers. If I had to speculate on the basis of that belief I would say that idea comes from older 1960''s through 1980''s style race boats that genuinely were a handful. I suspect that there is also a ''fear factor'' to seeing all of the control lines that are a part of a modern race boats. But the additional compexity of these control lines can be ignored while you are learning but as your skills increase you will have the tools to make sailing more comfortable and faster.
My main point on the 40.7 is the build quality. I have been really impressed with how tough these boats are. After 3 or so years of hard use the 40.7 that I sail on still looks like a new boat and does not show signs of flexing even when a bit over canvassed with 10 people on the rail being driven hard to weather into a short chop.
I''d at least take a look at a 40.7. If it doesn''t move you, you have at least checked out your options.