My thinking is near yours, especially with how to power them. I am a fan of the 28 Thunder and not just because I own one. The boat does a lot of things very well. Pantera is a very close second, and only second because of freeboard and cabin.
Since we're talking boats that can be made today and supported today, I think I would include the Sutphens.
They are incredible rough water performers from a company that is represented by generations of boat builders.
I do like the looks of the Activator and Joker boats, but have never seen one, so I won't step on my wanger saying good or bad.
One boat that I really like, and don't shoot me for it, is the Howard 28 Bullet. That boat gets tremendous write-ups everytime it's tested, and seems to handle whatever power is tossed in and maintains its good manners, just going faster. The rough water capabilities may or may not be there with the Florida boats, but it sure does look nice! Have you SCOPE boys ever seen one go to Catalina? Just curious............