We are novices (we have the equivalent of the US basic keelboat certification) and are looking for a boat that will reward good trimming, provide responsiveness and at the same time allow 3 adults and a young kid to sleep over for the weekend. The C&C 99 seems to fit the bill. The Dufour 34E, the J/97 and the Sun Fast 3200 would provide better comparison but are just above our budget (mostly for lack of used boats for sale). Within our budget would be used Beneteau 10R, but we were concerned with headroom (5'11") and limitations from the deep keel (6'7").
Are there any other model we should consider? We would like to stay with new or near new (2005+) boats.
Have sailed the 10R two weeks in the Atlantic, the 325 2 weeks in the Med - haven't yet tried the SF3200, nor the C&C.
The 325 looks sporty but the actual performance is definitely in the cruising segment - rudder feedback and the general power of the boat is pretty poor compared to the 10R. The interior looks nice and is spacious but the joinery and fittings are mostly faced particle board with direct screws into this so the doors, cabinetry, closets etc tend to fall apart (seriously). Under power in less than 13-15 knots the boat handles OK but you need to power down the sails early and ofter the the leeway in a 6-8 foot sea is nearly 15° off the target track going upwind. I wouldn't recommend the boat and would not buy it UNLESS you're planning on calm sailing and local coastal cruising.
The 10R although less spacious is a much better built boat and handles the power better - good feel from the rudder and helm. Between the 2 there's no question I'd prefer a 10R. The SF32 is a nice looking boat and is supposed to perform well (I've been on it but haven't sailed). J97 likewise but you're looking at a different budget...
In the price range you're looking at I'd go max 35 feet and look into the following (fast cruisers) X-34, J109, B10R, Dehler34, GrandSoleil354.1, Maxi 34, etc just to name a few.