The Santana 525 is a nice little boat. I believe that the design began life as a IOR 1/4 tonner but quickly became a cult favorite as a West Coast one design class. Like many of these 1970''s era racers they had very basic cruising accomodations,usually just enough to race in MORC (Midget Ocean Racing Conference).
If there is a one design fleet of 525''s in your area then I would encourage you to try to find a 525 for sale. Nothing inproves sail trim and boat handling skills like sailing in a one design fleet. Besides for the ability to do side by side comparisons with identical boats, most fleets make and effort to help its new members improve their skills by offering advice and sometimes loaning skilled crew members for practicing sessions or even during racing.
Yacht World lists a couple of 525''s for sale http://www.yachtworld.com/listing/yw_listing_detail.jsp?checked_boats=735472&checked _boats=979383¤cy=USD&units=Feet
If you don''t end up with a Santan 525 you have a lot of similar choices to choose from. In the late 1970''s there were a lot of similar designs introduced, some better built or more sophisticated than the Santana 525. In the ealy 1980''s faster a few faster designs were introduced. These tend to be more expensive. The following is a list of competitive raceboats that might suit yoru needs:
These West Coast daggerboard boats are a little newer and more up to date design than many on this list and quite a bit faster than most of the boats on this list. I have not sailed one to know ho forgiving they are.
These are on the cruisery-er side of this list. They are nice boats that sail quite well. They are not as readily competitive as some listed here.
These Catalina built racers are a little more forgiving than most on this list as far as being easy to sail to their rating. Like the Santana 525 they were not all that well constucted and so in particular should be carefully surveyed by professional marine surveyor who is familiar with small lightly built boats.
Dehler Sprinta Sport:
These were extremely high tech European built racers. They were very competitive when new but yu don''t hear much about them in the US anymore.
Mirage Kirby 25)
I actually owned one of these. They are quite sohisticated and neat boats to sail. They are not terribly forgiving boats to race as small adjustments or changes in weight can alter speed quite a bit. I probably learned more about sailing during the short time that I owned the Kirby 25 than any boat I have owned with the possible exception of the Laser 28 that I had for 13 years.
I am racing on one of these right now and I must say racing J-22''s one design has been the most fun that I have had racing in many, many years. While some of this is the skipper and crew, a lot of the fun is just sailing a simple and yet responsive boat.
J-24''s are as common as dirt. Go to any area with a racing keel boats and you can typically find a J-24 for sail. They are one of the most prolific small keelboat classes and as such there is an enormous collection of material (books, articles, videos etc) on how to sail these boats and you can often get really top notch sails quite cheaply for them. On the flip side, I really hate sailing these things. The helm is sloppy, and the cockpit and deck uncomfortable. They are easy to sail but hard to sail competitively.
The original Merit 25 was concieved as a part of an MBA graduate school case study project. The Merit 25 was designed and marketed using the student''s marketing concept. What resulted was a pretty fair boat. The keel versions of these boats are reasonably competitive. Merit built a later 25 footer that was a Nelson Merek design and these have proven to be quite competitive.
These were concieved as "world boats". The FUN (standing for Formula Un which was formula one in French) were very fast swing keel boats. You some times see these for sale very cheaply. I looked at one that had hardly been used that was for sale for $2K with a trailor.
These are more on the cruiser side of things but they are really nice beginners boats and they can still be raced reasonably competitively at a club level.
These G&S designed daggerboard boats were originally intended as MORC rule beaters, they are still good all around boats and are still reasonably competitive at a club level.
These are a real favorite of mine. Fast, forgiving and reasonably well built these Lindenberg designed boats are still quite competitive.
These are neat little race boats. They are really from a later generation than the boats above. As a result they are much faster boats than anything on this list. They do take a fair amount of skill to sail competitively but they are a lot of fun to race.