Singlehand question on buying new boat
Ed, my take was a little different than Jeff''s, altho'' on reflection its more a comment about apples than oranges. I think there are a lot of variables that are going to make a bigger difference to you than displacement IF you are only considering 3 masthead sloops ranging in displacement between 7 & 8.5 tons. (To my way of thinking, Jeff''s boat is considerably smaller than what you''re looking at, more easily handled as a result and, of course, we would all expect him to have it rigged with sweet functionality).
Ergonomics is a science & tradecraft that seems well honored by some builders (or by some but not all designers for a given builder) but not by others, and ditto about setting the boat up well for singlehanding (there are lots of ways to rig a reefing line but they don''t all work equally well). Jeff''s point about trying out the boats in question is where I''d want to start...but with some reflection first about how the boats are currently rigged and, with a knowledgeable sailor if you would find it helpful (salesman, YC member, whomever), how much they could be improved. Just to offer one simple example, the winches may be appropriately sized for the 393 and, while there may be a few more feet of line to crank, the effort itself may be less...and if the ergonomics are better, it may be less objectionable overall.
Another issue is your sailing venue. We all know what SoCal sailors have to deal with: lots of light air but also a few ''hurricane gulches'' near shore and in the Channel mid-day. And you don''t sound like the kind of sailor that will enjoy a routinely underperforming boat in light airs because you''ve got a genoa sized for the 15-25 kts of rare but occasional wind. So again, looking at the reefing setup for the main, determining whether it can be further optimized, and then trying it out on a windy day (the next Santana?) would be useful info.
However, the problem I foresee is that genny and I honestly don''t know what eager SoCal sailors do these days to get acceptable performance out of their headsails, day in/day out, given the breadth of wind speeds they see...unless we start talking about fractional rigs and lighter boats. Isn''t it fair to say that 80% of the time, you''d want a 150% (ugh...) while 5% of the time you''d want a working jib - and the balance something inbetween? Again, I see this being an issue across the range of boats you''re considering so it doesn''t help you there...but it would seem an issue you''ll want to reflect on a bit.
I like how you''re thinking your way thru this, nailing down the types of use, your own sailing plans and goals, and examining your own comfort level. Spelling this out makes it a lot more feasible to offer useful advice (altho'' I''m not sure I did). Keep us posted as events unfold, OK?