Here's my website containing everything about living aboard my Cal 39 from Quicken expense reports to maintenance tutorials to climbing the mast (with photos): SailorsLifeForMe.com
I've owned my 1978 Cal 39 MKII for 2 years now and absolutely no complaints. She was in fair condition when I bought her for $28,000 in Hawaii in 2013. There have been a few cases of corrosion in the wiring, the winches needed some lubing, new sails, new bottom paint, added solar, re-stepped the mast to replace the stainless steel step and added all new rigging while I was at it.
But as for the boat, never any leaks, dry interior, quality teak interior looking very nice, and no complaints at all! I live-aboard and sail inter-island every few months and race twice per week.
She's fully loaded down with cruising gear, but we still manage to come in the top third in the beer-can races.
Sailing the rough channel crossings, she sometimes slams hard into the seas when hard against the wind in 8 foot seas or higher. But falling off a few points fixes that until we're in smoother conditions.
Sailing downwind with following seas is hard work! Steering requires a lot of muscle, first holding strong right pressure when a wave passes from the aft, then a 3/4 turn of the wheel in the opposite direction until the next wave comes. That's a lot of hard steering when on a shift more than 4 hours. And the self-steering wind vane can't hold the pressure, so it's man-power only. Perhaps dragging a line behind would help, but never tried it.
At any other point of sail, however, just trim the sails and lock the steering. She'll go for hours through the trade-winds without ever touching the helm.
Most cruisers I've sailed next to require me to reduce sail to match their speed. With jib only, I can out point and out sail the Catalina 38. The only exception so far is the Nordic 44 which outperformed my Cal 39, but what do you expect. That Nordic is a sweet boat!
Sorry I have no info on the other two boats for direct comparison, but I am still very happy with my Cal 39!
1978 Cal 39 MKII TM