My family, then I owned a 1976 41 for about 15 years. I sailed the boat alot all over the place and spent alot of time in getting her "right" - to my standards I guess.
I loved the boat and at times, am sad that I no longer have her. They are very pretty as stated, apparently Cheoy Lee got tired of paying Rhodes royalties on the 40' Reliant and had their in house guy Richards create the 41 from the Reliant. The boats can vary alot, even though the boats were offered as stock with either ketch,sloop or yawl rigs-what I mean by vary is mostly in quality but also lots of strange things happened in those old Cheoy Lee yards. Some of the boats (I have known a few others) were well built, some had real problems-typical of those days in those yards-quality and detailing wildly different. For instance, I always felt my boat had a small rudder and that she required alot of helming at times-sure enough, I measured the rudder on another 41 in a yard and mine was short. Sounds crazy as there ought to be a simple mold for a rudder, but who knows what they were doing-I ended up adding to my rudder about 12" and it improved tracking and pointing immensely.
But, without writing a novel about my beloved Cheoy Lee-what to look for when buying? First off, and especially as the boats are now about 30 years old-you have to see how much of the "chinese" has been replaced-by that I mean the wiring (my original 12 v ground was all the ground wires behind the panel bundled up and soldered together...!), the plumbing-rotted old copper pipe etc, the deck hardware-Cheoy Lee "stainless" is legendary, the leaky teak decks, old wooden masts etc etc. When I sold her after all those years and a few trips to the West Indies and back etc, the teak decks had been removed, toerails removed (talk about chinese SS-nearly every bolt was wasted to near nothing), glassed the decks and hull to deck to cove stripe, toerails replaced (should have done it differently-another story), all stanchion bases and stanchions replaced, new (and fewer) jib tracks, blocks winches etc (no Cheoy Lee stuff at all), Aluminum rigs with new standing rigging, new sails (of course), proper windlass, removed and rebedded (but used the massive cheoy lee bronze portlights) all portlights and hatches (used wooden hatches too after rebuilding), painted out alot of the exessive varnish, black imron topsides, bigger rudder, feathering prop, nearly completely rewired, replumbed , repowered - the engine in the bilge is a problem-nice for weight and room below but even a little water in the bilge and you can soak the starter on a perkins-went thru several starters. My boat balways had a mysterious leak or leaks too... The interior is quite unique and roomy-great aft cabin, decent head, decent galley, the huge round table. Some boats had a nicely finished forepeak, some simple like mine. I removed the hanging locker by the port quarterberths and built a decent nav station in its place.
I know of one boat personally that had some pretty big problems with the deck lifting in breeze and the boat moving like crazy-they ended up rebonding alot of the boat and I think it worked well. I had a big problem with oilcanning in the forward sections and ended up adding 1/2"" balsa and biaxial glass over in those large unsupported areas-it worked well. everyone always talks about "how strong" the older solid glass boats are, but that can vary as well-layup schedules and stuff were pretty loose I think (understatement)-more like a bunch of laborers with rolls of fabric and buckets of resin-some of the glasswork on the the boats is overbuilt and bulletproof and some is astonishingly thin-again alot of differences in quality from boat to boat.
The boats sail pretty well all in all-I did alot with my boat to get her going better upwind-rigs, sails, rudder, deck layout etc, and still she was no upwind machine of course, but was much better-we could tack through 100 degrees and maybe less at times. Beam reaching is pretty sweet, the tumblehome goes down and she can really go-had very close to a 200 mile day once and many good fast 150+ miles days offshore when the boat was very happy. Mine was a ketch and I used a mizzen staysail and cruising spinnaker with good success. 135% furling genoa or 95% jib in tradewinds.
I suppose I have written enough already-happy to answer any specific questions you have-I wonder what boat you are looking at? All in all they can be pretty great cruising boats or they can be a repair and maintenance nightmare-depends on the boat and where you enter into her "chinese equipment removal" cycle. Several of the boats have done alot of sailing-mine a bit, another I knew circumnavigated over 5 years and they loved their boat, etc so they can do the job in the right hands - Good Luck!