Re: Looking for the perfect boat
It might be harder to find for under $5k, but I've raced on Capri 22s and they are a lot of fun. They have a larger cockpit than the Catalina 22 and are a lot faster. PHRF is 210.
My only complaint on the Capri 22 is that the boom is quite low and has a sharp edge along the bottom that really hurts when it wacks you.
I don't know how common they are for one design. I've raced them at a sailing school which has a small fleet of them.
You might also look into the Ranger 23 or other small Gary Mull boats. He designed a lot of the boats already mentioned in this thread and seems like the most prolific designer of small racing keelboats.
1986 Pearson 28-2 "Elena"