Beneteau First 210/211


Beneteau First 210 Newsletters

Club / Association: First 210 Club
Issue / Publication Date: Issue #2, July, 1999
Author: Terry F. Ellis

News For Owners Of Beneteau First 21.0s/211s
Letter #2 - JULY, 1999


The purpose of this newsletter is to help owners of the Beneteau First 21.0, First 21.0 Classic and First 211 Spirit exchange information about their boats.


The First 210 was designed by Groupe Finot. According to Beneteau's web site, the Beneteau First 21.0 was introduced in 1991 and the First 21.0 Classic, in 1992. The Group Finot web site reports 870 First 210s/211s produced to date. The First 21.0 and First 21.0 Classic was produced in Europe and the U.S. In 1993, the First 21.0 was voted Boat of the Year in its class at North American Sail Expo. US production was discontinued in 1996. At that time, approximately 120 hulls had been sold in the US. Some 60% of these were blue hull, swing keel "First 21.0" models. The rest were white color, single rudder, shoal draft, bulb keel "First 21.0 Classic" models. The blue hull First 21.0 featured double rudders, genoa furler, stern pulpit, pop up hatch, racing hardware, back stay adjuster, lights and stove. Both models were trailerable. Options on both models included a mast raising system, spinnaker and spinnaker gear. In Europe, this Groupe Finot design was called the First 210 Spirit. In 1998, Beneteau re-introduced it there as the First 211 Spirit. It is essentially the First 210 blue hull, swing keel model with an anchor well, modified hatches, plusher cabin, retractable rudders and an optional cruising package. In 1995, a 210 Club was organized in Europe. The concept was to promote camaraderie among owners and promote one design racing/cruising events. While the hull dimensions and rig are the same for all models, there are no one design racing rules nor scheduled group events for the Beneteau First 210/211 Class.

PICTURE THIS: F210 Shows Up In Sailing World

There's an article about trailer sailing in the July, 1999 issue of Cruising World. The author writes about their Seaward 24 and shows pictures of it. However, the feature photo on the article's opening page is clearly a nice blue, twin rudder 210 (stock photo credit to Onne van der Wal hiding down in the crease). A picture of the F210 sailing on a beam reach is shown a few pages later in the article. You can also see factory and owner pictures of the F210 at

FEATURE STORY: First 210 Cruising Sabbatical

Since 1995, I've kept my boat (First 210) in Edgartown Harbor, MA and until recently never sailed her except on weekends. My wife grew up on the Island (Martha's Vineyard) and is a captain on the On-Time ferries. My job kept me living "off island" approximately 40 miles away from the Vineyard. She was required to live in town, so we only saw each other on weekends, holidays, and when we took a holiday. On top of living away, I had commutes of approximately 2 hours per day. This all depended on who I was working for at the time. After about 8 years, I about had enough of commuting, so we sold our house, I quit my job and took a sabbatical. I ended up doing some care taking and what not to keep busy. Since I made my own schedule I could plan a getaway, which I took in mid July. Eight wonderful days of sailing, by myself through the Elizabeth Islands to Westport harbor, MA, then on to Conanicut Island (Jamestown, RI), Barrington, RI and on to my cousins' boatyard up the Taunton River (which I grew up on) in Digton, MA.

I left Edgartown harbor some time around 0430 hrs hoping to reach over to and catch the westward ebb through Woods Hole. The night before departure, the winds were northwest when I hit the z-shed. They but were supposed to swing around to the southwest (prevailing). The northwesterlies prevailed throughout the morning at about 12- 15 knots, so it was a beat all the way. I didn't quite make it in time to go downhill through the hole without motoring. Got through the hole and into Buzzards Bay, shut down the motor and the air died. I kept saying over and over I'd still rather be out here with no wind, than be in there with no boat. A breeze eventually came around to the southwest and onward to Westport for the evening and another exciting uphill adventure, going into the Westport River during an ebb. Got in ok and docked at the restaurant near the Route 88 bridge. Walked down to Tripp's Boatyard to clean up and then enjoyed a couple of chillers at the bar.

The next morning it was off to Jamestown, RI, after a few minutes of light air the wind came SW at about 10 knots. I put the tiller extension into the leeward corner of the cockpit coaming and attached a bungie cord to the tiller, hooked it to the aft windward cleat, she sailed straight as an arrow, rounding up slightly in puffs. I clipped in and took my cell phone up to the foredeck and started calling everybody I knew that was working. Was that really a nice thing to do? That evening I stayed at Conanicut Marine in Jamestown, RI. I brought my bicycle and explored the southern end of the Island, did laundry and found dinner. If anybody tells you Jamestown plays second fiddle to Newport, just don't try to correct them and we'll all be better off. The dining in Jamestown is superb and cuisine varies! The slips at Conanicut Marine are a little exposed, but not so much that it was unpleasant, a little bouncing from time to time.

Onward to Barrington, RI for a couple of days, another great day of sailing, winds SW to about 15 kts. I got into the marina and stayed for three days. Bicycled around Barrington, Warren and Bristol. The bicycle path through this part of the state runs from Providence onward through Bristol. I rented a car and went to a job interview in southeastern, MA. It really feels good to interview when you don't want the job and can go back to a boat! That evening I went next door to the Barrington Yacht Club to try and catch a ride for the Tuesday night round the cans ritual. The wind was dying so a lot crew was left shore side.

Off to Dighton, MA, (Shaw's Boatyard) this place is really out of the way, there are a couple of restaurants and stores close by. Dighton is a blue collar community, if you like sitting out in a boatyard drinking a few cold ones, conversing with others and barbecuing, it's oooo-k. I really like this place.

Three days in Dighton and Sunday it's back to Jamestown, RI. On the way back to Jamestown, I took my father for his last sail, I spread his ashes out over Mount Hope Bay, the body of water he'd grown up on. His father was a fisherman and since he didn't really have a choice, he too was brought up on the water. My father got me sailing at age 5.

From Jamestown the next day, I set out for Martha's Vineyard, winds 15 to 20 knots from the Southwest, a reach just about all the way home. Visibility about 3 miles in haze, then to about 1 mile and reducing as the day went on. A course of about 110 degrees compass put me on the Buzzards Bay tower, from there Cuttyhunk probably would have been a good stop. I decided to keep going and sailed into Edgartown Harbor early that evening, soaking wet from the fog and tired. It felt good to be back.

What I learned from this: I really like cruising. I am not a great sailor, just good enough to stay out of trouble, The size of the boat doesn't stop you from cruising. It only changes how you approach it. If you really want to go fast, get out of the water. Tuesday night races are for people who have to work!

Hull 056
Edgartown, MA

SUPERIOR SAILORS: 210 Sails From L. Superior to N Dakota to Enter Illinois Regatta?!?

Burning Bridges had her one and only chance on Superior, a warm may weekend. The winds were light, 5 knots or so, as we made our way up to Bayfield and out around Madiline Island. She really didn't seem overwhelmed by the waters, and we had a great sail. Our plans took a northerly tack, North Dakota, so our next water experience will be the WHALE OF A SAIL regatta in Illinois. If you know of any one up for a hoot of a weekend, the third weekend in September, have them give me a call.

David and Bev, on Burning Bridges.

(Editor's Note: Burning Bridges must have a trailer to take her to all these waterways in just a few weeks!)

F210 GOING FAST: Making Waves in Italy

Gianpaolo raced his First 210 to First place in his club series this year. He credits the ease of sailing the boat to his victory. In the latest series, he made a few mistakes but still did very well. He sails his F210, Hull # 738 in the Ionian Sea in Italy. He will keep us updated this year.

NEW OWNER TRIALS: Fixing a Leaking 210

When Chris purchased a previously owned First 21.0 this year, he fell in love with the boat's pure beauty and functional layout. But soon after, he found a leak in the vee-berth bilge area and found the keel made a thud noise when sailing in waves. He got suggestions from other 210 owners. Then, he tightened thru deck fasteners, pulling back the fabric liner to be able to wrench the bolt nuts. He put a bead of silicon sealant along the mahogany toe rails. He then found the leak was coming from the boat's trailer towing eye. He re-bolted the trailer eye, squeezing sealant in the bolt holes. Now his boat is dry. Chris found the retractable keel on his F210 should be all the way down to eliminate "clunking". Chris, wife and children enjoy day sailing and occasional over night trips on his F210, Halcyon Days.

F210 TUNE UP: Boat Tips

I have been racing my First 21.0 Classic Hull # 58 since I commissioned it in the Summer of 1996. Since then, I have gradually improved my performance until I now place decently in many races and/or regattas. Here are some of the things I've done to my 210:

1. Bottom: I paint my boat with VC 17 racing bottom paint and wash the bottom regularly. I found any slime or algae on the bottom reduces boat speed significantly.

2. Sails: I replaced the factory sails with North club race dacron main and jib. I added spinnaker rigging and a Schurr ¾ oz general purpose tri-radial nylon spinnaker. The 210 is especially fast under spinnaker. Downwind is where I find I make up time on competing PHRF boats. The boat is fast to windward but is hampered (relatively) by being restricted to a 100% headsail.

3. Tuning: I tuned the mast exactly as described in the factory commissioning guide. This pre-sets a 4-6inch bend in the mast with the backstay at rest. I found the boat's mast bend improves pointing to windward by flattening the mainsail, tightening the forestay and opening the slot between jib and main. GoTo and you'll find the factory mast set up guide there under F210 Factory Commissioning Guide. In brief, what you do is: a) loosen all stays; b) tension backstay until there is a 12 inch bend in the mast; c) hand tighten the upper shrouds; d) release the backstay and there should be a 4-6 inch pre-bend in the mast; e) tighten the lower shrouds to ensure the mast is straight athwartships; f) use your main halyard to measure the distance from the mast head to the shroud chain plates, adjusting turnbuckles side to side to center the mast on the boat; g) check forestay tension as very tight with full backstay tension on and somewhat wobbly with backstay tension released all the way.

4. Polars: I follow the VPP tables published by Finot (the boat's designer). I found I had been pinching the boat too much to windward. While the boat would point high, the speed decreased too much. In general, the 210's optimum angle of sail under any wind speed is 27-30 degrees apparent wind. So, I fixed the arms on my masthead fly at 30 degrees port and starboard. Glancing up, if I'm sailing close hauled at those angles, I'm at optimum VMG (velocity made good). You can find VPP tables for the 210 at You can also GoTo for posting of polars for the First 210.

5. Balance: Being a modern hull shape, I found it's best to sail the 210 straight up. That is, I don't shift crew weight to lee in light air to increase water line length. Basically, I sail the 210 flat. In heavy wind, I sail the boat at no more than 12 degrees heel. Simply cracking the main off a bit levels the boat out. Over 16 knots, I've found it's best to sail with one reef in the main. The boat will sail under control at much higher wind velocities but you get leeward slippage. Down wind under spinnaker I basically shift weight aft in the cockpit. The more the wind speed, the more I shift weight aft. This prevents yawing and causes the boat to plane on its flat after section while keeping the bow riding high, dancing over waves.

6. Jib: This has been the most difficult for me because I raced mast head rigged boats with 155% genoa jibs for years. The jib trim on the 210 is very critical for success of the main. The main contributes most of the power but only if the jib is set correctly. I use the 4th hole from the aft end of the jib fairlead track as my default position. Closed hauled, this works in winds from 5 to 10 knots. In light winds, I often use the 6th hole and in heavier winds, use the 3rd hole. Off the wind, I move the fairleads forward, when reaching under jib. In very light air, I have some Forestay sag. As the wind increases, I increase forestay tension (by applying backstay pressure), to get proper windward performance. I found a slight adjustment in jib trim (and then main sail trim) can make a big difference in speed and/or pointing to weather. The 210 has what some call a narrow groove!

7. Main: I use the loose footed main sail to get optimum power from the tall mast main sail. Off the wind, I put a huge curved draft in the main, letting the outhaul out some 18 inches or more! Close hauled, I trim the outhaul near but not quite all the way to the aft boom band position. Keeping some draft in the main gives the boat the power it needs in light, medium and even heavy air. On a beam reach, I trim the outhaul ½ way in between close and broad reaching position. I adjust the boom vang for changes in wind velocity and point of sail. I found if you do not do this, the leech of the main will either be too tight or too loose. Never over tighten the leech of the main sail with the main sheet as this will hook it and stall the boat.

8. Patience: The 210 makes very little noise as it cuts through the water. Sometimes I think it's going slowly (relative to competing race boats) only because their bow wake noise is louder. This is not the case. Have patience and let the 210 go its own way. I use yarns on my sails to ensure they are not over trimmed.

9. Rating: Here, the base Performance Handicap Rating Formula (PHRF) is 195 for a Beneteau First 21.0. Make sure you get credits onto that base to get the proper adjusted PHRF rating assigned to your boat. The PHRF rating assigned to me is 210 seconds/mile which includes a 6 sec/mi credit for bulb keel and 9 sec/mi for 100% maximum jib (195+6+9=210).

Hope this helps. I would appreciate any feedback or comments from other owners. While I have improved my F210's performance over the years, I feel I still have a way to go! Race-practiced, I find I can often pass day-cruising sailboats on up into the 30 ft + LOA range!

Terry Ellis
First 21.0 Classic
Hull #58


* Beneteau Owners Web Site. There are presently 17 owners of F210/F211s registered at this non-commercial site. You can find it at: It contains information about the 210/211 as well as other Beneteaus. Approximately 600 Beneteau owners are registered at this site which contains hundreds of articles and references in the library section plus owner profiles, boat profiles, newsletters and more.

* You can also share your experience with Beneteau owners at; a mailing list linked

* Newsletter For 210/211 Owners. Future newsletters would report activities like this:

* Seventeen First 210 Owners are now registered at the Beneteau Owners Web Site. This includes 2 First 21.0 Classics, 11 First 21.0s and 4 First 211s. GoTo to find owner profiles.

* Gianpaolo took first in his local yacht club racing series, sailing his First 210 in Italy's Ionian Sea!

* Johnathan cruised his First 210 for eight days around Cape Cod. Between jobs, he used the trip as a sabbatical. He reports it as much better than Tuesday Night Can Races!

* Chris recently bought a used First 210. After fixing a leak eventually tracked to the trailer tow eye, he's thrilled taking his family out on Chesapeake bay. He says it's pretty, quick and easy!

* Tony races his First 210 in Bahrain (Persian Gulf near Saudi Arabia)! He reports good results in racer/cruiser handicap fleets. He recently got a new set of racing sails.

* Terry used Polar Charts from Groupe Finot to make his 210 go faster, winning his club's Fall Championship and taking a 1st and 3rd place at weekend regattas.

* Ron sails his 210 almost every week on a beautiful lake in Georgia. His wife and guests like the 210's stability, handling and speed. Ron's new spinnaker takes him along faster than ever!

* Terry cruised the Tennessee River. In 1997, he sailed his 210 Classic some 250 miles from Scottsboro to Decatur, Alabama, trailing it there and back from his homeport in Atlanta.

* Mike purchased a new First 211 Spirit in the UK. He is lucky. Word is that production of First 211 Spirits is sold out for 1999!

Please write if you would like to contribute to future issues of this letter. Send articles on racing, cruising, day-sailing, rigging, maintenance; skipper tips or whatever you like. Rather than mailing, 210/211 newsletters are simply posted at

Prepared By Terry Ellis, F21.0 Classic, Hull #58, July 6, 1999

updated August 23, 2002