Jeff_H is a fount of information and really seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of many, many boats. He has been on and around cruising boats for far longer then you or I have and is the 'resident expert' on boat designs and he is also a moderator here so you should be glad that he took the time to post such an insightful reply. You can tell by his reply that he also has worked in the boat building/design biz in one way or another.
Jeff_H generally does not seem to be partial to many of the older boats and he has laid out his reasons well succinctly in other threads. If you search the forums for 'IOR' & 'CCA' something should come up. You could also click on Jeff_H's avatar and view all his posts.
One boat in particular comes to mind for your intended purposes is the Nor'sea 27' but I'm not sure you'll find one for <$15k. Other brands to look into might be Pacific Seacraft and CS (Canadian S..).
There are also a bunch of other similar threads where folks are asking: "What's the best boat for ...". A search of the forums for 'best boat' would probably find you a whole mess of these you could peruse for ideas on other models to consider.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen
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