While there are many small sailboats on the market, few have been designed specifically for the purpose of sailboat instruction -- particularly in the 21' (6.40 m) size range. And -- sadly -- many of the traditional boats that were used for decades in this size range -- are no longer being produced because their companies are out of business.But Beneteau and the ASA have come to the rescue. The American Sailing Association -- a non-profit organization dedicated to encourage the uniform teaching of sailing skills which has a network of 300 accredited sailing schools -- in concert with Beneteau has developed a vessel that can be used all over the world to teach sailing to beginners of any age.
Classic Concept with a Modern Design. Clearly, the folks at both the ASA and Beneteau have taken a close look at many sailboats in this size range that have heretofore been used as training sailboats even though they may not be specifically designed for that purpose.
The Finot/Cong naval architects have incorporated the best features that have evolved over the years in this size boat, plus added a few new ones of their own to make this boat as modern -- and as versatile -- as they come.
In this way, she actually makes a better training vessel than the classic old designs that were often lead mines and notoriously slow.
Because the boat has a swing keel, she can be used in shoal areas, and because her cockpit is self-bailing and she has "positive flotation" (something not required of most sailboats), she is safe to use for training. Her sail plan will not overpower the boat, and her boom is above the heads of the sitting students. her twin spade rudders make control possible even if a student should blunder into broaching conditions.
The 3/4 rig has a squared off 172 sq. ft. (16 sq. m) mainsail and a 97 sq. ft. (9.5 sq. m) 105% headsail. She is designed to carry a 334 sq. ft. (31 sq. m) spinnaker. This division of sail power makes sheet handling easy for all ages.
Several jam cleats allow two winches on the top of the trunk cabin to handle both the halyards and the sheets from forward of the cockpit. These lines are handled by the crew and the captain sits aft with the sole responsibility of steering and generally captaining the vessel.
Stability is provided by the boat's beamy hull form which maximizes the width of the transom, and by the swing keel. With the keel down she draws 5'11" (1.80 m), which is a considerable amount for a boat of this length and displacement. With the keel up she draws just 2'4" (.71 m) which allows her to sail most anywhere, as well as be easy to trailer and to store with her mast un-stepped.
Her displacement in a light condition is just 2,729 lbs. (1,238 kg). That makes her much lighter than the typical boats used by sailing schools over the years in this size range.
Modern One-Design (She Can Be Raced, Too)
The First 22 is built exclusively by Beneteau which maintains strict construction standards that allow her to serve double-duty as a one-design racing vessel as well. We have always preferred one-design sailboats built by a single builder because the resulting boats are far more likely to be nearly identical than if they were built by several licensed companies around the world.
One of the big draw-backs to many of the boat models traditionally used by sailing schools was the fact that their boats are heavy, slow, and in some cases have cockpits that were too small. The result is that they bare little resemblance to the modern, lightweight sailboats that people prefer today that are remarkable fast off the wind and can take a skilled hand to sail at their best.
One boat in this category that comes to mind is the Ensign, which was built at the dawn of the fiberglass era starting in 1962, until she was out-dated in 1983. While she had a large cockpit for the day, her long overhangs prevented even this boat's cockpit from being as spacious as the First 22. Also, the Ensign has a full, 1,200-lb. (544 kg) keel, a 7' (2.13 m) beam, no lifelines and has never been known for being nimble. And while she is longer in LOA, her LWL is 3' (0.91 m) less at 16'9" (5.11 m) compared to the First 22 at 19'8" (5.99 m). The First 22 can literally sail circles around an Ensign, grand old lady that she is.
Many sailing schools also use racing one-design boats such as the Soling which, even though she is significantly longer has a similar LWL, nevertheless she has more than 2' (0.61 m) less beam. Her cockpit is made for a racing crew of two or three, and not for sailing instruction for four, plus teacher.
What is the ASA?
Driven by a clear need for uniform teaching standards and increased access to sailing activities, the American Sailing Association (ASA) has been the leader in U.S. sailing education since 1983. The association has grown to include an international network of more than 300 professionally accredited sailing schools. More than 800,000 students have learned to sail through ASA schools and clubs since the ASA's founding. The ASA has strategic partnerships with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and was instrumental in establishing national education standards through its work on the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ Education Committee. The ASA has also consulted with the Department of Transportation and the National Parks Service.
Standard and Optional Features
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