Folks - this is helpful input. I've also contacted the local Chesapeake Alerion 28 fleet and a few have acquired Gennakers, but seldom use them.
Part of me wants the go fast some times, just sail others (light wind), and the comfort part is more for my wife. Cockpit seats are a nice thing... with real backs. Aging - we're both just past the 5-0 mark... but still young enough and work out a lot. But time does its own thing.
Someone commented on the open stern. That's a good point. Dog might fly out there... like he jumped out the car window when we slowed down near the yard office the other day! Yet a sprit boat sets up pretty nicely and isn't all that hard to trim and keep trimmed down wind. LOTS of fun! But I have little intention to race the boat... other than "... whenever two or more of you are gathered on the water..." bit. I mean if you've ever raced... it's ALWAYS in the blood.
So there will much pondering and visiting at the upcoming boat show. Question whether I'm leaving out some good candidates altogether??? Appreciate any further thoughts.