Beneteau First 210/211


Beneteau First 210 Newsletters

Club / Association: First 210 Club
Issue / Publication Date: Issue#4: February, 2001
Author: Terry F. Ellis

Dear Beneteau First 21.0, First 21.0 Classic and First 211 Skippers,

This latest Newsletter describes what I have heard and know about our First 210 and 211s during the past year 2000. I am certain there is much more news, however; owners have not kept me up to date on how and where they are enjoying their boats. If you'd like to share, send me an e-mail with news articles.

Here are the topics contained in this letter:

  • 2000 Race Results-First 210 Classic #58
  • FAQs On Repairs for 210s/211s
  • Flying a Spinnaker on a 210
  • Purchasing a Used 210

This is a summary of my First 210 Classic #58 2000 race results in "PHRF Spinnaker" classes: · University Yacht Club, Lake Lanier, Georgia. This year-long intra-club race series included approximately 8 races from Feb-May and another 8 from Sept-Nov. I placed 1st in Spring, a Catalina 30 TM 2nd and a Ben F35.6 3rd. Fall the Cat 30 TM was 1st, the Ben F35.6 was 2nd and I placed 3rd. Overall, 1st was Cat 30 TM (PHRF of 180), First 210 Classic (PHRF 210) and First 35.6 (PHRF 114).

· Southern Sailing Club Races - "Hi-Performance Fleet" Lake Lanier, Georgia. I managed 3rd in Raft-up regatta behind an S-2 7.9 in 1st and a Capri 25 in. I placed 2nd in an all-night Firefly Regatta behind a Wavelength 24. I placed 4th in single handed races behind Santana 20s, S-2 6.7 GS and Cal 20.

· UYC/BFSC Open Regattas - Lake Lanier Georgia. I placed 3rd in the Hot Ruddered Bum Regatta behind a Santana 20 and S-2 6.7 GS and 11th out of some 30 entries in the "Around Alone" regatta.

· PHRF Regional Hospice Regatta - Western Carolina Yacht Club, Lake Hartwell, SC. Neils Wade, owner of a First 21.0 who lives in Ohio, joined and crewed with me at this event. We placed 6th, 4th, 3rd, 3rd in the four, drifter wind races completed over two days. That placed us 4th in PHRF B behind 1st place Catalina 22 (PHRF 285), 2nd Place Capri 22 TM (PHRF 208), 3rd Place Catalina 22 (PHRF 285). Due to the light wind our spinnaker did not provide the typical advantage down wind.

· AISC Wednesday Night Races - Lake Lanier, GA. I struggled to average around 4th-5th in these typically light wind evening races. Sometimes I would take then lose the lead in PHRF D class. Santana 20, Lindenberg 22 and S-2 GS 6.7 types Rating from 206 to 222 usually corrected or flat out beat me at the finish line. Flying spinnaker single handled round the bouys was a disadvantage even with near perfect starts. But lack of an overlapping genoa hurt the most.


Here are questions people have asked me most often during the past year:

1. Where is the leaking water in the forepeak of my boat coming from? It is most likely a leak from your trailer towing eye. Dig out any foam to access the eye bolt and re-bed the towing eye in the bow stem. If leaks continue, pull back the inner liner at the hull/deck joint and tighten/re-bed through bolts all around the gunwhale. Also, re-bed turning blocks, cleats, stanchions and other through deck hardware, including bow pulpit.

2. Why does the swing keel make a clunking noise? A slight noise is of no real concern, especially in light wind with large boat wakes all about. Excessive clunking means you need to check/replace nylon discs attached either side of the keel where it pivots on the keel trunk.

3. Why do the twin rudders feel wobbly? You need to tighten the entire rudder assembly at least once a year. The gudgeons could be loose and the nylon bushing could be worn. The rudders need to be "aligned" to achieve maximum performance. Also, check for leaking inside the rudders and or "blisters" on the rudders (which indicates water saturation in the foam core of the rudders). The tiller mechanism bolts need to be checked/tightened regularly.

4. Is it difficult to raise/lower the mast? Yes, unless you have the optional mast raising system which includes a gin pole and temporary stays/bridles to do so. The mast is so much longer than the boat's center line, you will not have sufficient leverage on-board to raise/lower it with ease.

5. What is the PHRF? A PHRF of 204 for the First 210/211 with swing keel and 210 for the Classic with bulb keel is what we've been using. It is possible to overcome this handicap but certainly not easy. Because the boat can only fly a 105% max LP genoa, it is difficult to compete to windward with other racer/cruisers in the same PHRF range…especially in light wind conditions. The boat makes up its rating downwind with spinnaker. That is the leg where you win or lose.

6. Is the Classic as fast as the First 210? There is no experience to answer this. Theoretically, the swing keel/twin rudder First 210 should be faster due to higher aspect keel and double rudders for stability in heavier winds. Owning/racing a Classic I "theorize" the fixed bulb keel is somewhat faster down wind under spinnaker. I also feel the single rudder has less drag. However, it is clear to me the Classic has a good amount of leeway in winds over 15 knots, unless you have plenty of crew on the windward rail to hold it flat. In any case, the Classic needs performance racing hardware like the First 210 in order to be competitive.

7. What shroud tension is best? Follow the owners manual and/or see articles on this at the Beneteau Owners Web site. My suggestion is not to overly tension the shrouds. However, be sure the side shrouds are tight enough to prevent "pumping" the mast.

8. Why are the bow pulpits and stem plates on the Classic and First 210 different? I guess it is because the Classic stem plate fitting was not designed with a jib furler in mind. The stem plate for the First is a solid aluminum plate which extends over and around the boat's prow. The Classic's stem plate simply sits on the deck and is much more fragile looking. It is more fragile and is incorporated into the bow pulpit. Those who install a back stay adjuster on a Classic take note. Put a backing plate under the stem plate to prevent pulling it right out of the deck with the back stay adjuster.

9. Why doesn't the 210 have a main sheet traveler? It is not clear whether a traveler would enhance the performance of the boat. The "barney post" set up makes movement in the cockpit much easier than if a bar were across the seats in the otherwise cramped cockpit sole. The important thing in light air is to use the topping lift to reduce boom weight on the mainsail…to keep the leech open and drawing. A boom kicker would be ideal, eliminating the need to use the topping lift. A traveler is very expensive and somewhat difficult to install due to the wide span of the cockpit sole. Those who have installed a traveler, have attached a turnbuckle from the barney post to the middle/underneath side of the traveler bar for extra support across the cockpit sole.

10. How can I install lights in my Classic 210? You will find a wiring box in the stb vee berth hatch along with a wire running to the cabin light. There is where you mount a battery box and battery. From the connector, you can easily run wires aft to a stern mounted stern light (under the transom cross bar) and fwd to the vee berth forepeak to a bow mounted/pulpit mounted bow light. I also, ran a wire up the inside of the mast to a "tri-light" anchor, steaming, stern combo light on the mast head.


As a point of reference and encouragement, I fly a symetrical, 3/4 oz, Nylon, tri-radial head spinnaker on my First 210 Classic, often all by my self. It is really not difficult with all the lines led back to the cockpit. I use shock cord to keep the tiller square while I "set" the spinnaker pole. All that requires is raising it up on the mast pole ring the vicinity of the boom gooseneck fitting. Before leaving dock, I feed the spinnaker lines through the pole and back to the cockpit, through turning blocks there. And I attach the pole topping lift and down haul lines to the pole, letting the pole simply rest on the foredeck so the genoa easily tacks across it. I keep the spinnaker halyard and sheets shackled together on the aft life line stanchion, opposite the side of the boat the pole is set on. My spinnaker rests in a canvas "box/bag" which slides on wires just under the cabin hatch.

When I'm ready to fly the chute, I detach the spin halyard and sheets from the life line stanchion and shackle them to the three corners of the chute, as it lays in the cabin hatchway. I can do this while sailing close hauled with one hand. Once that's done, and the spinnaker pole is raised into position, I am ready to launch my spinnaker. To do so, I steer the boat down wind, adjust the pole via the topping lift and down haul, "ouch" the tack, head and foot of the spinnaker under the foot of the genoa until the tack is at the fwd end of the pole. Then, I hoist the spinnaker halyard and the chute pops open in front of the genoa (usually it is blanketed by the genoa and stays limp until I trim the pole guy aft and trim the clew in with the sheet. Once the chute is thus flying, I release the genoa halyard, letting the genoa drop to the foredeck (If you have a furling jib, all you do is furl it). Finally, I trim the chute and the mainsail and get the boat up to full speed under spinnaker. I can achieve 3-4 knot boat speed in a 5 knot true wind at 120 to 150 degree apparent wind angle and 5-6 knot boat speed in 10 knot true wind at approx 145-165 degrees app. wind. At 12-20 knot true wind speed, my boat will begin to plane some, easily averaging boat speed in the 6-7 knot range at approx 165-180 degrees apparent wind angle.

When I'm ready to "douse" the chute, I do the above steps "in reverse". I raise the genoa first, with the spinny still flying, then drop the spinny in the wind shadow of the genoa and main sails. As it comes down there, I simply stuff it into the canvas bag under the cabin hatchway. I can leave the spinnaker lines attached, dangling out of the hatch. Or, I can detach them and slide the spinny bag fwd to the Vee Berth, to allow easy access to the cabin. To me this is really quite simple in any winds less than 10 knots. After that, another crew person really helps. Three is nice for racing around the bouys, but not necessary for cruising.

I have single handedly sailed/raced for years and am proficient at it. So, go slow and practice/practice in moderate winds before you "go it alone". My biggest fear is slipping or falling overboard. Once, I did slip and fall, handling my chute, racing single handed in winds averaging 12 knots with powerful gusts to 20 knots! On that fall, I dislocated my shoulder. I was tired and did not "think my next move" before "executing". That's the secret to spinnaker handling no matter how many crew. Take your time, think what you are going to do before you do it. One foul up and you've lost all the time you could achieve with a chute vs. genoa. Get it right, and you make quick passages down wind.

A spinnaker takes the boredom out of sailing long distances down wind. It's as much fun as sailing to windward because it takes constant trimming (of the sail or steering of the boat to the sail set), to get optimum performance. The First 210's short J dimension, make the spinnaker pole short and easy to handle. The tall mast means your spinnaker area can be very large and the sail can be hoisted up high where the winds are better. The "canoe body" hull with flat aft section provides a stable yet very fast down wind ride! I suggest a standard symetrical chute/pole vs. an asymetrical poleless chute for these reasons: a) you will be able to cruise a deeper angle downwind to your destination (say 165 degrees apparent vs. 135 degrees) so you'll arrive sooner, b) you will not have to "hassle" with the ATN sock which gets in the way of the genoa/furler/etc., costs alot of money and adds weight and c) you can get near as much speed broad reaching with a symmetrical chute in medium winds (in drifter winds, the chute won't fly in heavy winds, you'll be over powered). And, to race you need a symmetrical chute.


This past year, I have received several inquiries from people interested in purchasing a used 210. There are not many available on the market in the USA. The ones that are seem to be going for a price of $10,000 to $12,000. Three have been two or three First 210s with trailers at this price and one Classic… all three in the 1993-1994 hull date range. Some prospective owners have had surveys and some not. The boats seem to be in great condition except for the leaking in the forepeak, wobbly rudders and clunky keels (see FAQs Above). Most have been dry sailed so there is no hull gel coat blistering. The only new boat in this class you can buy in the USA is the "newly redesigned" Catalina/Capri 22. It was awarded "Top Ten Boats of the Year" by SAIL magazine. Its base F.O.B. price is $11,800 new. The "performance" racing package hardware, trailer, motor, shipping and racing sails + tax would run the price of this boat up around $20,000. It's a great boat but our 210/211s perform as well. So if you have a chance, buy a used 210. The 211 is still sold new in Europe. I do not know the used boat market there. I feel there is a "downsizing" trend occurring here in the USA. Demand for good used 20-24 foot trailerables seems on the upswing while the supply seems to be decreasing. With the "recession", who knows?

That's all I have for now. Previous Newsletters are contained in the web site Also there, you'll find many articles to help you enjoy sailing your own First 210/211. Please send me any articles you'd like published in a future B210/211 Newsletter.

Terry Ellis

updated August 23, 2002