Any sailing boat is also a sports machine unless you chose not to use it like that and stay in port when you can have fun with the boat.
When you go out downwind at 10k (I hope it would be more in my next boat) with 25/30K wind surfing two meter waves that come slightly sideways you have about the same sensation at the wheel as when going fast on a twisting dirt road with a powerful car or bike: You have to have the wheel in constant motion to control the slides, you know, just like in a car, before it happens you have to compensate and before the slide finishes you have to have the wheel strait again.
Same sensation in a boat you have in a car going fast with the additional pleasure of controlling 8T moving with the tip of your fingers. I guess you will understand by this the importance of having a very sensitive steering.
The difference between a more sportive boat and a heavy boat here can be very important: While on this conditions a lighter sportive boat maintains a very light steering a heavy cruising boat can be hard on the wheel and what is a pleasure on a fast boat can turn up in a muscular tiring effort on a heavy boat, not to mention the much bigger control a sensitive wheel gives.
And if you think this are not very frequent conditions, well in what regards coastal cruising they are not but in what regards crossing oceans in the trade winds they are.
Another similarity I found is with my old racing dirt bike, I mean when you are powering upwind full sails on 18/20K wind. My boat could go at 7K sometimes jumping 3m waves crashing down and most of the time breaking them, I mean water flowing all around. The power that the boat is making is huge and you can feel it at the wheel.
After some hours of this I was amazed to find an intact interior
. It is just wonderful that a cruising boat can take this kind of punishment without the interior coming apart.
A good cruising sailing boat is two things, a caravan and a sports machine. There are ones that are more a caravan others that are more a sports machine. For some sailors the sportive part is completely irrelevant, they only want a sea caravan, others only wanted fast cruising boats for racing.
For the ones that like sports and want also a sea caravan for the family the trick is too chose the right combination between interior space and sailing performance and regarding this you can be sure of one thing: The boat that you will see at the boat show with the bigger and nicer interior will not be the best sailing boat, specially in what concerns the space on the front cabin.