Rich - what are reasons against Bene's if you don't mind? I want all points of view and really want to know if there is something I should pay careful attention to.
Personal Preferences -
The Bene's, to me, are not well 'set-up' for singlehanded sailing with most of the running gear terminated to the coach roof. That means that one has to physically leave the helm continually to adjust the main sail controls. I prefer 'end boom sheeting' which leaves all the critical sail controls in immediate and instant reach of the helmsman; mid boom sheeting winds up with most of the 'vital' controls on the coach roof, not a good idea in 'blammo' conditions.
The Bene's are relatively flat bottomed which significantly slams when in severe chop and steep waves, plus it gives the boat a 'fast' roll period, which to me is 'very tiring' on long passages (plus I power-puke on a snap roll boat). I prefer a slow-roller (slow roll period) or a more 'sea-kindly' boat. In comparison the overall 'motion comfort' is about 'half' of a specific traditional design 'open ocean' boat (Valiant, Tayana, Passport, Peterson, PSC, etc.).
Again (my preference), the cockpits are TOO LARGE for the open ocean. Imagine the weight aboard (stern squat) when you get a boarding wave over the stern on a Bene; plus, the bridge decks are too damn low (or non existent) which makes such a boat vulnerable to severe down-flooding.
Others have commented with regards spade rudders .... have to be VERY WELL designed to avoid serious sudden catastrophic and total FATIGUE failure.
As with most production boats there arent enough convenient and secure hand-holds inside and outside; getting thrown and slammed from on side of the interior hull to the other because there is little to hold onto is not my idea of a 'good time'.
The interior 'stowage' is usually at a bare minimum, sacrificed probably to yield 'open space' marketability ... good for a 'weekender' or short passages. (I will admit that for long distance cruising, I typically overload with stores and suffer the boat being well below its normal sailing waterline).
Although I havent back-calculated the rigging, seems to be only suitable for 'coastal' work, although the chainplate attachments are probably the most 'structurally brilliant' and simplistically elegant in the business. I have seen 2 Benes with failed rigging (dismasted) when used for long distance 'outside' cruising but dont know their actual history.
Again and without actual backcalculating, the apparent inbuilt Safety Factor (FS@ 2-2.5 instead of FS=3+ for serious offshore work) does not seem suitable for a long distance cruiser or passagemaker (I could be wrong in my 'guesstimate').
The (obsolete) capsize ratio on most Bene's will be in the range of ~2.0 ... not good for the open ocean in beyond boisterous conditions without keen constant attention of the helmsman.
Still such boats, to me, are a 'coastal' design and is quite suitable for 'island hopping', especially if set up with traditional slab and deep reefable mainsail.
Those with roller furling mains always seem to struggle mightily when going upwind in 'snot' conditions (because the resultant sail shape is toooooooo flat when furled beyond 30% sail reduction).
So, I deem such boats as very good 'island hoppers' which are able to divert to a convenient port to wait out the 'snotty stuff' .... a 'coastal design'. I see no problem in taking just about any Bene from Nwflnd all the way down to Trinidad. You just have to wait for the correct weather windows, I do that even in my "blue water" boat.
Old obsolete comparison data, but still a good 'go-by' for selection: Sail Calculator Pro v3.53 - 2500+ boats