Good stuff ... I'm sure I've said this to you before now but I have real soft spot for the Rivals ... if the weather works for you the Bill must be very tempting ...
We are tempted by Portland Bill. Even for Anvil Point, we had to go about two miles offshore before crossing the race/overfall areas even when crossing with the tide. With Portland Bill, we may need to go six miles offshore.
As for Rivals, the longer we own the boat, the more we appreciate and enjoy it. When we were shopping for boats, the first several Rivals we saw we didn't like, because they were owner finished or hard used. The same was the case for the Camper Nicholsons. We weren't turned off by having a heavier boat or a longer fin keel.
We also seriously considered a Contessa 32, which have a serious following here in the UK. Aestheically, it is very hard to beat a Contessa 32-- she just looks right. However, having been on several, I just couldn't get over the interior having to fit two adults and two teenagers. The headroom and space just didn't seem to be there. Our Rival is only two feet longer, but she also felt more spacious overall.
A few things about Rivals in the UK:
1) They are surprisingly affordable (compared to Contessas and other boats). Somewhat rougher versions of our 34 show up for £20k.
2) They are very seaworthy-- even the 32 footers are commonly sailed across the Atlantic, even though the tankage isn't large.
3) They can sail remarkabily well, especially in moderate to strong winds. We can balance ours so she can sail hands-off the tiller when we have the sails and groove set right.
4) They are overbuilt in terms of strength-- the hulls are thick and have strong stringers along the length. As a result, however, they are heavy. Ours is 8.33 tons and has a SA/Disp of around 13.91. That said, I'm surprised by how we need to reef starting in around 18 knots of wind.
5) Like Pacific Seacrafts, they are much more narrow in design that most modern boats-- you're not going to fly far across the cabin, but you are going to have less living space below. I've even been on some Rival 41s, and they didn't seem that much more spacious below than our 34 in some ways.
6) They have learning curves-- if I am lucky, I can occasionally back straight up. Most times, it's a tight turn to starboard in reverse, and don't even think of backing to port in our boat. It's not going to happen. As a result, we have to be very specific when requesting guest berths-- starboard tie, back to starboard to leave.
7) They are respected, rugged and somewhat working class boats today. When I go on HRs and Najads and Malos, I think they are really nice, but our Rival is tough and has what it takes.
As we learn the boat more, the more I like it and its potential. I liked a Yachting Monthly article a couple of years ago that talked about restoring an older boat like ours for less than a new, lightweigth cruiser, and the advantages of having the stength and the sea-kindliness in the long run.