Beneteau First 210
First 210

Tech Notes

Beneteau First 210 Tech Notes

Boat Model: Beneteau 21.0
Submitted: October, 1998
From: Terry Ellis, Owner First 21.0 Classic Hull #58 "Let Go", Lake Lanier, Georgia

I too was fascinated by the "sheer beauty" of the little Beneteau First 21.0. So, I bought one in 1996. Beneteau only made about 120 of these wonderful boats...all were manufactured here in the U.S, between 1993 and 1996. About 1/2 of them are the "First 21.0" design and the other 60 or so are the "First 21.0 Classic" design. The former has a Blue hull color and the latter a White hull color. The hull shape and standing rigging are the same on both. However, the Blue First 21.0 features a 6' iron swing keel and double rudders, whilst the White Classic features a 3' fixed bulb keel and single rudder. I have a white hull First 21.0 Classic. The Blue First 21.0 came standard with racing gear, jib furler and tilting hatch. The Classic came pretty well "stripped" of any racing features. At just 2,200 lbs disp (of which 800 lbs is ballast), the boat is easy to trail on its custom made trailer and mast raising system. I installed the racing gear of the Blue First 21.0 on my Classic. I have raced, day sailed and trailed the boat a great deal. It has the speed of many 27-30 footers with the agility of a small day sailor. It is fast in light, medium and heavy air. It's easy to single handle. It's dry. You can only fly three sails...Main, 105% jib and Spinnaker. No matter, it flies with just the three of them. You reef the main at 18 knts or crack it out and sail it like a day sailor. It has a friendly helm and is always in control. You don't have to work hard to make the boat go. It is competitive for club racing with a 201 PHRF. It is easy to maintain. A 4HP outboard will push it along at hull speed. The cabin interior is very usable and lives much bigger than a 21 footer...due in part to the absence of a mast support post. But there is not a galley, separate head, and such. I must say I have enjoyed this boat more than the other (9) I've owned before it. For me it was a "downsizing" option that actually delivers more for less. As I get older, I'd rather spend my time sailing than living aboard and fixing a big cruising yacht. Yet, a dinghy does not offer year round use and performance in big lakes and bays like this "pocket rocket". The boat is very quick, very stable, very easy to sail, very comfortable, very strong and, I think, simply gorgeous. It was selected "Boat of the Year" at Sail Expo in 1993 , in its class. Why did it not sell well in the U.S.? My guesses only are: It was too "pricey" (@ $18-$22,000) for entry level sailors who could not see the refinements and the exceptional performance of such a small boat. It is not a pure "racer", so did not appeal to "racers". It is not a pure "cruiser", so did not appeal to those who insist on an enclosed head/shower/ice box and micowave with galley to boot. It was not a true "day sailor" so did not appeal to those into dinghy sailing. Beneteau Dealers know how to sell "yachts", but an entry level trailerable racer/cruiser is different. There are many racer/cruisers on the used market that cost less (e.g. J/22, J/24, Cat 22, F235 etc.) . What I like about it is that it does all of the above quite nicely, simply and affordably. All I can say is if you like the boat now, you'll grow to like it more and more every time you sail it. I don't know what you mean about "transpac". If you mean crossing oceans...well I don't know if I'd do that in a F21.0...but I suppose it's possible.

"Just My $21.0s Worth"

Update December, 1998. The First 21.0 is now being produced in France as the Beneteau First 211 Spirit. The rig and design specifications appear to be exactly the same as the First 21.0 produced here in the USA from 1993-1996. It's approximate displacement is listed as 2,400 lbs. Loaded with galley, instruments, head and cherry cabin interior enhancements. Sail Area is listed as 271' vs. the 243' listed in the original USA First 21.0 brochure. I believe the difference is simply sail cloth area vs. "rated SA w/100% foretriangle". The 211 is described as "new for 1998" by Beneteau France. So, one can still purchase a Beneteau 21.0/211 Spirit new, at least if one goes to Europe now to do so.

Title: General History and Description of the First 210 
Model(s): First 210 
System(s): History & Owner Reviews 
Author: Terry F. Ellis 

updated May 12, 2004