Always found the console to offer good protection - in 00's of charter trips not had one complaint about wind, even up to 50 odd knots. Have sat in rear port and stbd jockey plenty of times and it is noticably less windy than sitting in the same spot on an equivilent ribcraft 7.8 charter rib..the only observation I would make is that the console screen should be a bit taller - it doesnt really serve much purpose the size it is.
The ballistic hull does come into its own above 30 knots, but actually (imho) outperforms comparable ribs at speeds below this when cornering and dealing with typical solent chop. No expert on the detail or why this might be the case, but the 7.8 has always seemed to manage confused water down here better than ribs like the same sized cobra and ribcrafts I've been out on.
HMS is no doubt a more accomplished helm than me - but again, I've never noticed any tendancy to "fly its nose" - unless there are 6 fat men like me at the back and nothing to counter this up f'wd...I would suggest this is pretty normal for any boat. If anything, I've found the 7.8 to ride very flat and this can be a bit disconcerting initially - when I first drove her, I thought there was more chance of stuffing the rib rather than the front end taking off.
No idea how the 5.5 and 6.5 handle as never driven/seen one in action but with regard to the 7.8, I think HMS is a bit wide of the mark. To his last comment, all I'd say is pick the right engine, stick at 20/25 knots and you'll be fine...and have a rib that can do the business at nearly double that speed.