MacGregor 26 vs. ?
This comes down to your definition of a good sailing boat and learning to sail. Even these simple terms are not agreed upon.
To some learning to sail means learning enought to get a boat out and back with some sailing time in between. To others (like myself) Learning to sail means learning proper sail trim, boat handling and seamanship skills.
If your definition of learning to sail is the first definition then you might get by with a Macgregor 26sx. If you really want to sail beyond the basics the Macgregor is a major mistake.
This gets to the basic definition of a good sailing boat. At some level, the threshold level for a good sailing is a boat that will sail reasonably reliably on a reasonable range of points of sail in some range of windspeeds. Under that definition, a Magregor again is at the bottom threshold of a reasonable sailing boat. BUT, that definition ignores boatspeed, ease of handling, the ability to sail in high winds and light air, comfort of motion, and very critical for a beginner, responsiveness. By that definiition, the Macgregor is a total failure and a boat that should be avoided a all costs.
The Mac is the antithesis of the boats normally chosen by sailing schools or designed for beginner sailors. In the past 40 years these boats have been typically been tiller steered fin keel, spade rudder sloops. Hull designs have tended toward easily driven hulls. The boats have been chosen for linear and consictent behavor and forgiving of bone head moves. They are generally ruggedly engineered.
Over the years, I have looked at Mac 26sx''s at boat shows in storage yards, and out sailing an a lot of occasions. In watching they Mac''s in heavy air, I consider them a very poor choice for areas with higher wind ranges or frequent summer thunder storms (we have had oen capsize here on the Bay). They are useless in light air. On the Chesapeake, where I live you rarely see them under sail. Looking at several year old boats these are not robust boats and they really do not seem to stand up very well, especially to the kind of abuse normally associated with learning by a new sailor.
So while the Mac 26sx may have their fans, and may suit somebody''s definition of good first boat, it is the antithesis of a boat that I would recommend.