Well folks, perhaps some constructive comment from someone who ACTUALLY owns a Macgregor 26M might not be amiss.
I sailed for around 10 years in the solent on an Etap 26 - great boat - but getting old in the tooth. I bought the first 26M to arrive in the UK in 2004 ( my boat was at the boat show that year ) Is it safe - is it stable I hear you shout! can't possibly be a good sailor as it can cruise at 18Kn with ballast.
Well I sail my Mac 26 all year round on some of the most changeable seas in the UK - off the west coast of scotland - I have used it flat calm to F6 and I can assure you that, with full ballast tanks, it is a good stable boat and great fun too. Why not check out my site www.braemor.co.uk
if you wish to see more info on adapting the boat to our climes.
By the by - I do not see the Mac as the skoda of the boating world ( that would be the legends) more the VW Golf Gti.
Not a boat for old yauchties and armchair sailors, but one for families to have FUN in, is that not what this is all about?
Remember - next time you are pounding along in calm conditions at 5kn, hour after hour, trying and never appearing to get closer to port. The Mac owner is already ordering up his next pint and Moules Mariner in the pub - I will save you a seat. ( I have experienced both sides of the coin above by the way )
It is a compromise - but the benefits ( by far ) outweigh any sailing limitations and I can still outsail most heavy cruisers in an F3.
If you do fancy the Mac - try one first - then decide. It worked for me.