J/122 looks nice but too long and too deep
Opium 39 lovely but too wide as per above. And with 3 double cabins rather big.
Olsen 38 was a very nice boat, mad by Olsen Yacht in Denmark. Basically it should qualify in this thread because up till today I have not been able to find an as good performance deck saloon in the 35-39 feet bracket by far. Only Luffe 43 DS is close (and a copy in my mind). And I have checked many. Mine this was destroyed by fire in 2007, hence the Oceanis 40 in a hurry. Only 12 has been made and the latest 2007 I think. Very nice sailors cockpit, hardly wisible deck saloon, wacuum glued teak deck, lots of smart finesses, like a performance version of the Southerly. They can still make them bout out of the mentioned budget.
Funny you have talked about the Luffe 43. I visited the shipyard years ago and I was just interested in that boat, well not in that boat but on a modern version. The Luffe 40.04 was just being lunched and I was waiting for a 43 along the same lines. Oluf had made instead a beautiful new 45 and now it modernized the 37, I guess the next one will be the 43. Things happen more slowly on traditional semi custom boats...I went to visit the shipyard maybe 7 years ago?
Along this discussion about boats we do no have talked much about weight but weight is important since it is multiplied by the to GZ give the total stability of the boat (the surface under the positive part of the RM curve). I was looking for a boat with 7/8T with a very good GZ curve. A very light boat can go fast but will not give the solidity and the motion of a heavier boat. This is true also for more heavier boats. A 40ft HR with 11T will be more steady and easier to sail than a more sportive boat...but then it will not sail well in lighter winds or be fast enough in medium winds or will point higher enough, I mean for my taste.
Regarding your question on a previous post regarding sailing and fuel, I can talk about my experience with the Comet 41 s. Many think that a big fuel tankage is a necessity. I am sailing extensively the boat on Greece, doing an average of 25/30Nm a day and I refueled two days ago: 74 liters on a 150L tank. The last time I put diesel (also half a tank) was a month ago. Most of the diesel is used to charge batteries. On the last 3 months I have recharged the batteries on a marina 3 times, including today. I have a relatively big water tank for a performance boat (400L) and that will last only (without being too careful) 15 days (with two aboard).
So the 150L diesel tank that would look too small for many is enough for a month while the bigger water tank is only good for 15 days.
An advantage of performance boats with a big stability is that they can take rough weather with little sail. Today I sailed on a good force 6/7 and crossed ways with a new 43745 Halberg Rassy. We both were having a great sailing day and the guys from the HR waved a lot to us (and we replied). Both boats were sailing upwind on different taks (I would say I was closer to the wind), they were making probably 7/7.5K and I was making 7.5/8.0. They had a furled genoa (less then mine) and a main on the first reef. I was sailing only with the genoa reefed to the size a bit bigger than a jib.
So, smaller sails make it more manageable but on heavy gusting (that you find often near the shore) lighter boats can have very fast reactions and need a sail to let go fast and that's not very easy with small crews or solo.
I would say I prefer a mid term and that's why I was looking for the Luffe 43 that even if bigger, because it is narrower as about the same weight and overall stability of my boat.
To make it short, if a boat is very light or narrow, I would prefer a bigger boat, if a boat is heavier and has an average beam, than I would take a smaller one (both with about the same weight and interior space). But that, off course, it is just my personal preference and should not be looked as a rule by nobody. There are tastes for all types of boats, even steel, very slow ones (at least with light winds).