Beneteau First 210/211


Beneteau First 210 Newsletters

Club / Association: First 210 Club
Issue / Publication Date: Issue #3, December, 1999
Author: Terry F. Ellis

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News For Owners Of
Beneteau First 210s/211s
Letter #3 - DECEMBER, 1999


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


I purchased my Beneteau 21.0 Classic in 1996. It was a 1994 model that had sat at a dealer "as new" for two years! I added hardware to it that is standard on the First 21.0 model plus spinnaker gear. I mostly race and day sail on Lake Lanier, near Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.. Because I had many questions about the boat, I started this newsletter as an offshoot of the Beneteau Owners non-commercial web site at I posted the inaugural newsletter at that web site in February, this year, then a second one in July and now, this December issue. In the future, I feel two issues: June and December would be enough. Before preparing each letter, I send e-mails to F210/211 owners registered at the Owners' site, asking them for news reports. I include their responses along with some of my own experiences. I first thought the newsletter would be rather brief. But it has grown as owners send in interesting stories. The cut off date for the next, June-2000, issue will be May 30, 2000.
Feel free to send me any comments, suggestions or corrections. Enjoy!

Terry Ellis
F21.0 Classic


The Beneteau First 21.0 was introduced in 1992. World wide, there may be 900 or more First 210s/211s under sail today. In 1993, the First 21.0 was voted "Boat of the Year" in its class at "North American Sail Expo". When U.S. production was discontinued in 1996, approximately 120 hulls had been made and sold in the U.S. Some 60% of these were blue hull, swing keel models. The rest were white color hull, bulb keel "Classic" models. The blue hull "First 21.0" featured double rudders, genoa furler, stern pulpit, pop up sky-lit hatch, racing hardware, back stay adjuster, lights and stove. Both models are trailerable. Options on both models included a mast raising system and spinnaker gear. In Europe, this Groupe Finot design was called the First 210 Spirit. The Groupe Finot web site at reports 870 F210s produced since 1991.

In 1995, a "210 Club" was organized in Europe to promote camaraderie among owners and "one design" racing/cruising events. Apparently, that effort failed as there have been no "one design" rules nor scheduled class sailing events. In 1998, Beneteau re-introduced the F210 as the "First 211 Spirit". It is essentially the same as the original First 21.0, swing keel model, but with these improvements: anchor well, enclosed cockpit hatches, galley, retractable double rudders and nicer interior decor. Excellent descriptions and pictures of the new First 211 are at: and These web sites are presented in French and English. The pictures of the new First 211 at the Finot site show it to be a white hull with a dark blue water line stripe.

Submitted by Terry Ellis
F21.0 Classic

FEATURE STORY: Poole Bay in the UK

Just this year, we took delivery of our new First 211. During my last week of the season, I had two great sailing days. The first was on Wednesday, when my wife and I went out into Poole Bay about 6 miles offshore. It was a beautiful sunny day, about Force 3-4 in Poole Harbour, sheltered from Easterlies. But when we got out into the bay, it was a good F4 with big waves rolling in (Poole Bay is notoriously exposed to Easterlies and is not the place to be in an Easterly gale). We were very impressed how the F211 handled the waves beam-on, when reaching. It was also very dry when beating. Although it would roll a bit on a dead run, it was nowhere near as bad as some small cruisers I have been on. The wind gradually increased throughout the day until in the end we were single reefed on the main and had about half of the jib rolled in on the beat, so that Jan could handle it easily without winching. The boomkicker and my conversion to 2 line reefing made reefing on the move a cinch. We had a great day out and

Jan's confidence in me and the F211 in moderate to fresh winds have greatly increased as a result.

Then, on Friday I took my friend Andrew from work out for a morning sail prior to a business meeting we had planned. The wind at the clubhouse was Easterly 17 knots. Andrew has only been out sailing once before as "rail bait" on a thirty odd foot racing sloop. I knew there were big breakers in the bay, so I decided to stay in Poole Harbour. We ran westwards down from PYC past Baiter Point and Poole Quay hard by the ferry terminal and down past Poole Yacht club, Hamworthy Park into Dorset Lake.

It was still low tide so we had to stay in the channel. I got loads of Gybing practice that day. I knew the wind was increasing all the time as we were making 4 to 5 knots on a dead run with a reef in the main and the outboard dragging in the water! It had only taken us 45 minutes to cover this distance so we pressed on past Moriconium Quay and the Royal Marines Base to Rockley Point, running and broad reaching all the way. We still had some time left so we decided to forge on towards the Wareham River (also known as the Frome). Dorest Lake is wide here and there is plenty of deep water. There weren't many yachts out that day and we noticed that most of them who were heading Upwind were motoring! They were all bigger than us no doubt with 40HP inboard engines! As we headed for Wareham we left the shelter of the Arne Peninsula behind and were soon shooting along at 5.5 knots again.

Before too long the Wareham Channel petered out to a line of sticks meandering the last mile or two before the river entrance. I knew we could not sail any further, so I asked Andrew if he would like some tacking practice, or to motor back to the club which I estimated would take 1 hour 15 minutes. Andrew said he had "done tacking before" so we turned through 180 degrees and headed upwind. We put 2 reefs in the main and half of the jib, to give Andrew an easy time and started the long hard beat home. It was a thrilling ride beating back at 4.5 knots along the wide channel to Dorest Lake, only tacking when the depth sounder read 2 metres or so. Andrew soon learned to get the jib over quickly and sheet it in hard before it caught the wind on the new tack, thus avoiding winching! There was a Hobie Cat chasing us hard from behind and another sailing cruiser, but we would not be caught!

Soon we reached the moorings at Dorset Lake where the channel narrowed to a couple of boat lengths. There, we decided to start the engine. By now the wind was much stronger and our 4HP Suzuki could only make about a knot to windward with the sails up. So, we decided to drop the main, furl the jib and motor back the last half hour to the Club. It was a wet ride to windward in the short breaking waves of Dorset Lake. I gave Andrew the helm, whilst I went below to put on my waterproofs. Andrew was a competent steerer and was having fun. We could now see the familiar red and green hanger doors of Parkstone Yacht Club in the distance. I kept dry perched in the companionway while Andrew took us home.

When we hit the exposed waters of Balls Lake, the 2 knots we were making in the shelter of Arne had fallen to 1 knot or less. We could see the clubhouse tantalizingly near, but we were not even making steerage way under motor. The distance home was so short that I was loath to hoist the main again as already I had carefully lashed it to the boom. It was ten to one and I had arranged to meet for lunch in the clubhouse at 1:15 and a business meeting at 2:00. We weren't going to make it as our motor was useless in these conditions, lifting out of the water in big waves.

Just as I was thinking the same, Andrew said "why don't we just unfurl the jib?" That was done in a trice and Eclipse immediately shot up to 3.5 knots and we tacked back to the club under jib only with the engine still running, just to push her round when we tacked. We were back by half past one, quickly docking the boat and dashing to the clubhouse. Our faces and hair were white with salt! Walking along the dock, our business colleague called on my mobile phone to put the meeting off until 4:00 (sailors luck?). "I can hardly hear you" he said. "Yes its very windy here", said I. "Are you on a boat?", he asked. "No", I answered truthfully.

Back at the clubhouse, the wind meter showed 22-27 knots in the shelter of land. It must have been stronger out on Balls Lake. "How did you like it?" I asked my friend, Andrew. "Thanks, it was a laugh. She's a good boat" he shouted with glee. I agreed. I think Andrew will make a good seaman.

Submitted by Mike Smith, F211

BOAT TIPS: Speed Up With VPP

Groupe Finot, designers of the F210/211s, developed a valuable tool to improve boat performance. It's a series of computer prepared VPP (Velocity Performance Prediction?) charts. These charts indicate the performance you should get from your boat in wind velocities from 3 knots to 32 knots. There is a separate chart for each of these wind velocities: 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24 and 32 knots. Each chart then shows true wind speed, true wind angle, apparent wind speed, apparent wind angle, boat speed, Velocity Made Good (VMG), leeway, angle of heel, height of wave and % sail area aloft for close reaching, beam reaching and broad reaching. VMG is the optimum combination of boat speed and making headway for "close hauled" and "down wind" sailing. While this may sound complicated, it is easy to understand once you see the charts. For example, the charts confirmed what I have experienced. Our boats sail best close hauled in winds of 3-8 knots and winds over 15 knots at 29-30 degrees apparent wind angle. In winds of 10-14, 26 to 28 degrees (higher pointing) is possible without losing speed or having too much leeway. On broad reaches, the charts indicate 100 to 120 degrees apparent angle as optimum in light winds, increasing to 165 degrees apparent wind angle for winds from 12 to 32 knots. With these charts, a wind vane on the masthead and a knot meter, you can see if you are sailing your boat well. If you're "way off" the charts, you need to change something. That might be as simple as sail trim, mast tuning or the angle you sail to the wind on a given course!

If you are frustrated trying to get your F210 to perform in varying winds and sailing angles, take a look at these VPP charts. They are at under the F211 section. Also there, you'll find great pictures of the new F211 as well as boat specifications and Stability Graphs. VPPs for the F210 are also posted at where you'll find many articles on the F210/211.

To make it simple, I set the arms on my masthead wind indicator 30 degrees port and starboard of the boat's center line (60 degree angle total). Sailing close hauled, I trim the sails to ensure the wind indicator arrow is at or under the arms. Down wind, I use the 30 degree angle as a "guide" for optimum spinnaker sets. Down wind, the fixed arms represent a 150 degree apparent wind angle, perfect in 10-15 knot winds. In lighter winds, I use ½ way from the 150 degree angle to 90 degrees abeam (that's 120 degrees). The optimum angle down wind works whether under spinnaker or jib.

Try it…you'll be amazed that the mystery is revealed. I use the charts for practice sailing. I also read them before a race. You could also use them to prepare your own "Polar Chart" too.

Submitted by Terry Ellis F21.0 Classic

NEW OWNER NEWS: Texas Owner Buys A Classic

I bought my First 210 Classic this spring and have been doing alot of sailing so far. The two boats I was considering were a beautiful J/27 and the 210. I opted for the simplicity of the 210. I have a four year old child and felt the 210 would be a safer alternative. The fact that she can get in and out of the companion way by herself has been huge. If I got a bigger boat having her navigate steep companionway stairs would have been a nightmare.

I sail on Lake Lewisville, a fairly large lake just north of Dallas. I have found the 210 to be a perfect lake boat. I have also received many compliments and envious looks from other owners of larger less flexible boats (many of which are now stuck in the mud at their slips due to drought and low water). It is easy to buy a boat that is too big for the lakes surrounding Dallas. The fact is very few people around here cruise; they daysail and I feel I've got the perfect "day cruiser". I haven't raced it yet but plan to next year if I get more time. My yacht club - Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club ( - has a series of PHRF races in the Spring and Fall and I think I'd fit in well enough with the J/22s, J/24s, S/2s and Moore 24s that are popular here.

Submitted by Will Bratt
F21.0 Classic

DREAM BOAT: South Carolina Owner Too Busy To Sail

I haven't had any time to sail because I got my dream job last July and I've been away training. My lovely boat "Avalon" is out of the water and sitting on her trailer at the Lake Murray Sail Club. Next month I think I'll have some time for sailing again.

Submitted by Don Menig F210

JUST YOU WAIT: UK Owner's Boat On Order

I have a new 211 on order with delivery date scheduled for next March. I know there is a UK Beneteau association, but do not know whether there is a 210/211 sub section or club. Do you have a list of UK 210/211 owners or any information regarding formal or informal meetings?

Submitted by Tim Bushell F211

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Ohio Owner Wins Regatta

I purchased, Zafu, my First 210 this year. After cruising on Lake Erie all summer, I trailed her home to Columbus, Ohio. But before putting her away for the winter I raced in a local regatta at Lake Alum. We finished.... 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2. That gave us a first in class and 3rd overall. We were assigned a Portsmouth Rating of 97. There was no spinnaker class. My First 210 was clearly one of the best boats upwind. It was no slouch downwind either. The winds were 10 - 20, gusty and sunny the first day. Day two the wind was 8 - 15 with some higher gusts and rain.

After winterizing Zafu, I visited Terry Ellis in Atlanta while on a trip to the South U.S. We raced his F210 Classic with spinnaker on Lake Lanier. We logged 27 miles on Saturday and about 13 on Sunday. It was 70 degrees, sunny and breezy both days. My GPS said our highest speed was 7.5 knots. That must have been on a spinnaker run. On Sunday, just as we were heading into the dock, we got caught by a nasty gust and took a brief knockdown. I quickly pulled in the spinnaker and the boat recovered nicely. Soon we were dockside where we shared ideas on rigging and sail trim.

Submitted by Niels Wade F210

DO IT YOURSELF: UK Owner Makes Mast Raising System

I decided to make my own mast raising system rather than pay the price for the Beneteau system. I looked at the sketches posted at the Beneteau Owners Site as a guide. I made the Gin pole out of the end of a wrecked mast from my 14ft sailboat. I rigged up the bridles with light polyester line as a trial run to make sure I got the rings exactly on the axis of the mast pivot, carefully measured all the lengths and ordered the wire rigging from my local boat shop. (Coincidentally there were plans for a mast lowering system of similar design in Practical Boat Owner a month or so ago, so I picked up some tips from that too.) The mast lowering kit worked fine. We did it with a 20+knot wind as well! I lashed up a mast prop from the rest of the broken mast, but it was not quite high enough. So, I had to halt operations when the mast was 90% down, while I removed the gooseneck fitting before it touched the hatch cover. Still there is plenty of time to make a better mast prop. I made mine in a simple Y shape by riveting an aluminum hook from the hardware store to the end of the mast. I drilled a 1/2 inch hole through the bottom of the mast prop and inserted a short length of aluminum tube through it, which rested on the cockpit floor. I lashed the "mast prop" to the outboard motor bracket. This mast prop also works well for towing and could be made up from timber very cheaply. The only disadvantage is that the mast can not be relied upon to come down exactly in the crutch at the top. Thus, 2 pairs of hands are needed!

Submitted by Mike Smith F211

ALL ALONE: Georgia Owner Survives Test

As a "Test Sail", I single handed my F210 a pre-determined distance course on Lake Lanier. The wind was variable from 10-20 out of the North East. The course was 26 nautical miles with 31actual sailing distance miles. I averaged 5.1 knots over the actual distance and 4.3 knots for the course miles. The F210 is easy to sail handle as well as fast down wind. Here's my story:

LEG #1: 6.7 NMIS: 1 HR 22 MINS: Start UYC POINT, 2TM PORT, 11 STB, #3 PORT, #2 PORT (Average Speed over course miles = 4.9 knots; over actual 6.7 miles = 4.9 knots)

The 2.5 mile beam reach from UYC to 2TM took 35 minutes. I shoved the jib fairlead about ½ way forward to power along. Although Mark #3 was down wind, I did not fly the spinnaker in the strong wind. I completed the 3.5 miles to it in 40 minutes and the .5 mile fetch to Mark #2 in just 7 minutes!

LEG#2: 7.9 NMIS: 2 HR 4 MINS: #11 PORT, 4TM STB, 2TM STB, 13 PORT, X STB, E PORT (Average Speed over course miles = 3.9 knots; over actual 11.0 miles = 5.3 knots)

This leg was close hauled except for the one mile foot from 4TM to 2TM to 13. There was a fairly steady 15-20 knot wind with white caps everywhere and swells around 1-2 feet. I sailed full main (luffed 1/4 most of the time) and jib. The boat sliced through on coming waves with some spray on deck but none in the cockpit. I played the mainsheet to keep the boat on its feet in the puffs. By sitting aft and out on the rail, the bow seemed to slice and lift over the chop…like surfing. At Mark E, I was glad the wind had subsided, as I now headed close Hauled to Mark F starting Leg #3.

LEG #3: 3.0 NMIS: 51 MINS: F PORT, A STB, SUNRISE POINT REEF STB, 1ST SRC SNW MARK PORT (Average Speed over course miles = 3.5 knots; over actual 4.0 miles = 4.7 knots)

The ½ mile close reach from E to F was in light wind which I made with just one tack. I was afraid to sail the spinnaker on the short reach from F to A. That was wise as the wind beyond Old Federal Park turned into a close reach to Mark A. I got steady breezes there as I rounded on a beat to Sunrise Cove Marina. The boat started moving fast across the lake to Lan Mar Marina's dry storage. There, I tacked onto port and fetched the reef mark off Sun Rise Cove Marina point with only one tack. I then footed to the SNW mark at SRC Marina. As I rounded it to begin Leg #4, the winds were very fickle, swirling and puffy. I was thinking maybe I should head home. But I decided to proceed, as I'd come this far.

LEG #4: 8.5 NMIS: 1 HR 45 MINS: MARK #24 PORT, ISLAND #23 PORT, A STB, B PORT, C PORT, D PORT, 13 STB, 2TM PORT, 5BC PORT, UYC FINISH (Average Speed over course miles = 4.9 knots; over actual 9.0 miles = 5.1 knots)

It was slow going rounding the lee shore of SRC Marina and beating to Channel Marker #24 (near Ballus Creek). Then, I had a nice beam reach over to Island #23. The wind had subsided so I hoisted my spinnaker as I rounded Island #23, heading down lake...going home...finally! I gybed the spinnaker just before I exited the narrows of the island. I was surfing and approaching Mark A fast! I was anxious about gybing the spinnaker at A, to reach over to Mark B. I considered going straight ahead...home. I was tired and the sun was setting. As I ducked below to turn on the navigation lights, I decided to run the course. At Mark A, I jumped to the foredeck, gybed the spinnaker, jumped back to the cockpit and threw the boom over. The spinnaker popped open and the boat swooshed on toward Mark B. I could not find it in the twilight so as I neared the shore, I gybed back down lake. During this gybe, I missed latching the pole on the mast! As the boom flew over, I jumped back to the tiller, and let the spinnaker "fly". After steering the boat back on its feet, I went forward and latched the pole. Soon, I passed Mark C leaving a "rooster tail" wake! Then, I swished past Mark D, sailing to 13 point. The wind picked up there, so I dropped the spinnaker. But, its halyard got snagged and the boat rounded up. It was dark and I was getting tired now. Fortunately the next mile to Island 2TM was a fast foot. Then, after rounding it, I had a smooth close reach the entire 2.5 miles back to UYC. I finished the course at 8:33 p.m., six hours and 2 minutes since I had begun, at 2:30 p.m.

Submitted by Terry Ellis F210 Classic


* Beneteau Owners Web Site. At < a href="" eudora="autourl"> you'll find information about the 210/211 as well as other Beneteaus. Approximately 1,300 Beneteau owners are registered at this non-commercial internet web site. Known as "BOWS", the site contains hundreds of articles in the "library" section plus owner profiles, boat profiles, newsletters and more. There are twenty-five F210/F211owners registered, including 2 First 21.0 Classics, 18 First 21.0s and 5 First 211s.

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

* This Newsletter For 210/211 Owners. This member-produced letter is not mailed. It is posted at the Beneteau Owners Web site mentioned above. Here is a summary of prior newsletter topics:
  • (July, 1999) David and Bev sail "Burning Bridges", on L. Superior then trail it to N. Dakota.
  • (July, 1999) F211 is Featured in Cruising World magazine.
  • (July, 1999) Terry offers First 210 Tuning Tips.
  • (July, 1999) Gianpaolo won 1st place in his local yacht club, sailing the Ionian Sea in Italy
  • (July, 1999) Johnathan cruised his First 210 for eight days around Cape Cod.
  • (July, 1999) Chris recently bought a First 210, then traced a leak to the trailer tow eye.
  • (February, 1999) Tony races his First 210 in Bahrain with good results in handicap fleets.
  • (February, 1999) Terry won his club's Fall Championship Series.
  • (February, 1999) Ron sails his 210 almost every week on a beautiful lake in Georgia.
  • (February, 1999) Terry cruised the Tennessee River from Scottsboro to Decatur, Alabama.
  • (February, 1999) Mike purchased a new First 211 just before production 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. The cut off date for the June issue is May 30 and November 30 for the December issue.

December 4, 1999

updated August 23, 2002