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Good comments by Diva above. The wetted surface area of the hull really comes into play in light air. Once winds build, there is normally more than enough hp available to overcome the hull drag, but in light air it makes a big difference.
Plenty of sail area too -- in an efficient rig design -- relative to the vessel's displacement. Sail Area-to-Displacement (SA/D) ratios are a good place to start when comparing similar sized boats. Typical, relatively conservative cruising designs will show SA/D ratios in the 15.5-16.5 realm. Once you start seeing numbers approaching 17 and above you are getting into a more performance oriented design, which theoretically should offer better light air performance.
But those aren't the only issues, and you'd be surprised how some seemingly stodgy designs can move along well in light air. The Sa/D ratios are based on 100% foretriangle measurement, so don't reflect overlapping genoas or staysails or any of the other tricks that allow a boat to pile on sail area in light air.
Also, there are things you can do to improve a run-of-the-mill design to help eek out light air performance: Use smooth racing bottom paint; keep the bottom clean of scum; install a folding/feathering propeller; get a spinnaker; purchase new working sails; don't pile the boat full of every convenience and sink it below its designed waterline; etc.
Having no idea what your budget is, or how you plan to sail the boat (family cruising, racing??), it's difficult to make suggestions. But in that size range I like the J-32, the Beneteau First 10R. They are a bit tight for family cruising, but definitely fall more on the performance (cruiser/racer, racer/cruiser) end of the spectrum.
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Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31 #62
NEVER CALLS CRUISINGDAD BACK....CAN"T TAKE THE ACCENT