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.
FIRST 210/211 HISTORY
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 http://www.beneteau-owners.com.
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
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
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!
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
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
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 http://www.beneteau-owners.com 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
http://www.beneteau-owners.com. You can also GoTo
http://www.finot.com 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
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
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!
First 21.0 Classic
F210 NEWS SOURCES
* Beneteau Owners Web Site. There are presently 17 owners of
F210/F211s registered at this non-commercial site. You can find
it at: http://www.beneteau-owners.com. 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.
* Beneteau_List@SailNet.com. You can also share your
experience with Beneteau owners at
http://email@example.com; 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 http://www.beneteau-owners.com
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
* 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
* 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
Please write firstname.lastname@example.org 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 http://www.beneteau-owners.com.
Prepared By Terry Ellis, F21.0 Classic, Hull #58, July 6,
updated August 23, 2002