About the Martin 242

Fun, Fast, Social, and Affordable Racing: #Martinswintheparty

The Martin 242 is one of the most enjoyable boats to sail on the market today, and it is extremely competitive against all types of PHRF boats in almost all conditions. Quick, maneuverable, and easily sailed by 2 and raced by 3-4. The Pacific Northwest Regional Fleet of about 90 boats regularly sees 15 or more on the start line for Wednesday Night races in Vancouver, with Regional weekend regattas drawing anywhere from 8-15 boats. There are lots of fun social events and seminars throughout the year, which make the M242 Class the most fun and competitive fleet in the Region: #Martinswintheparty

Starting in May, there are also introductory races and social events on Thursday nights for those who want to get started in the Class in a more casual manner.

M242 owners enjoy very cost-effective racing:

  • Low moorage costs, both wet and dry-storage (note that for 2018, Kits Yacht Club has capacity for up to 4 more Martin 242’s on the east side of the compound);

  • Class restriction on purchases of no more than 2 new sails per year;

    • Most people need 1 or less per year to be competitive

  • Relatively maintenance-free;

  • Economical deck, navigation, and rigging systems.

Most M242s can undertake a racing program for less than $4,500 per year, including moorage, insurance, entry fees, sails, and repairs: a very affordable figure. In contrast, some larger race boats in the GVRD can spend many times that amount on just one sail. As an international boat, the Class has active racing Fleets in Sylvan Lake (Alberta), Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, Orcas Island, Bellingham, Los Angeles (Marina del Rey & King Harbor Yacht Club), and southern Japan, which gives members the opportunity to compete in many other locations.

Orcas Island and Vancouver Island are the current higher-growth areas in the Pacific NorthWest.

Over 250 have been built since 1981, and there are large fleets on the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. The M242 Class is unique in that it has very rigid class rules to control expense and to ensure even competition. The total sail inventory consists of a main, jib and spinnaker. The roller-furling jib dramatically simplifies boat handling and encourages family crews. With a PHRF handicap of 150-156 seconds per mile, it seems that the PHRF handicappers certainly respect the performance ability of the M242.

Boat Preparation

The preparation required to get a stock 242 racing is minimal, but as with any tough class this work is essential if you want to make any changes, be sure to check the class rules. One important (and legal) modification is to drill extra holes in the stock jib tracks to allow more precise positioning of the jib lead. The modified tracks should have holes 5/8" from center to center. Another important change is to substitute a 3/8" Kevlar composite or spectra for standard pre-stretch Dacron main halyard. We also suggest you get spectra tapered spinnaker sheets- they should be 60 feet of 3/16" spectra with 40 feet of 3/8" polyester casing. These tapered sheets are easy to handle, do not stretch, and lift easily n light airs.Additionally, a good compass is essential such as a KVH or TacTic mounted on the mast.

Rig Tuning

Tuning the 7/8ths rig on the 242 is a relatively simple exercise. First, make sure that your factory-supplied forestay is the maximum-allowed length of 27’1 ¼". Next, the mast should be blocked forward in the mast collar (partners) as far as possible, which will straighten the mast in the area of the mainsail luff and keep the forestay tighter. The upper shrouds should be very tight-approximately 600 pounds of tension if you use a tension gauge. When beating in 12 to 14 knots of (true) wind, the uppers on the leeward side should be firm. At the same time, the lowers should be tightened so that the mast is as straight as possible athwartships. The loose tension gauge would read 46 upper 35 lower. The spreader angle is not adjustable.

Mainsail Trim

The mainsheet has two functions: It controls the leech of the main, and it provides headstay tension for the jib. Don’t use the backstay to bend the mast or tension the headstay this will over-flatten the main, and leech tension will be lost. The leech should be kept straight with a tight mainsheet. From about 7 to 14 knots upwind the tellta le on the top batten on the main should be stalled about two-thirds of the time. Below seven knots the sheet should be eased enough to keep the telltale just flying all the time. In winds above 14 knots the upper part of the tapered mast will automatically bend to open the main leech and flatten the main, so once again the backstay isn’t necessary. In very windy and rough conditions it may be faster to ease the mainsheet four to six inches to open up the main leech even more.

Next to the mainsheet, the traveler is the most important sail control. Mainsheet tension allows the 242 to point; dropping the traveler helps her foot. In getting the boat up to speed, start with the mainsheet in tight and the traveler to the point listed in Table I for the current wind speed. If your speed drops excessively, lower the traveler a little; think of the traveler as your gas pedal.

The main outhaul should be kept within 1" to 2" of maximum when sailing upwind in any breeze over about eight knots, and in lighter winds it should be eased slightly more. When reaching and running most class experts ease the outhaul another 2" from the outhaul setting for that wind speed. The cunningham should be kept loose in all wind speed under 15 knots – don’t use it as a wrinkle remover – those wrinkles are fast! Once the wind reaches 15 knots, the cunningham can be pulled on quite tightly to keep the draft forward in the sail.

The boomvang on the 242 is very powerful (12:1) and is not normally used upwind. When reaching and running, be careful not to over tension the main leech with the vang – let the leech breathe and keep the telltales from stalling.

Table I – Mainsheet Traveler Position

Wind speed Traveler Position

Wind speed Traveler Position
0-5 Knots Center - 4" down
5-10 Knots Center - 4" up
10-15 Knots Center - 4" down
15-20 Knots 8-12" down
20-25 Knots 12-18" down

Jib Trim

The first step in setting up the jib is to tighten the halyard adjuster inside the zipper luff of the sail until the slack is taken out of the jib luff. Next, position the jib lead so that when the jib is pulled in tight, the leech and the foot have roughly equal tension – neither should be too tight. Then set the jib halyard tension so that the jib clew will just touch the lead block when the sheet is pulled in very tightly. This jib halyard tension is a good starting point for most wind conditions. Calibrate the halyard adjustment by marking the sail is fully hoisted. When using the setting described above, the jib luff will appear quite loose – don’t be alarmed, as this keeps the jib luff entry fine, and allows you to point high.

As the wind speed rises above 14 knots, the jib leads should gradually be moved aft about 4". This allows the jib to twist off and open up the slot. If the main flogs in strong winds it means the jib is trimmed to tight – move the leads aft or ease the sheet. A flogging main does not always mean that the jib is not balanced. The most common sail trimming error in strong winds is over – trimming.


Spinnaker Trim

The 242 spinnaker is quite tall, and as a result the sail is very sensitive to pole position. Generally speaking, the spinnaker clews should be level, or the pole clew (tack) should be up to 6" lower than level. Keep a close eye on the pole height, particularly in shifty conditions when constant adjustment will be required. The fore – and aft position of the pole is also a sensitive adjustment can make a huge difference. Mark the spinnaker sheets near the winches when the clews are near the forestay to help you in reach-to-reach jibes and spinnaker sets.

Weight Placement

Most of the top boats in the class sail with four, but the boat can be sailed by three easily.

As far as weight positioning goes, athwartships heel should be small (less the 12 degrees) in all but the very lightest conditions. When beating and running in fewer than five knots, it will pay to use some heel to reduce the wetted surface and keep the sails still. Fore-and-aft weight positioning is also important. In most wind speeds the crew weight should be centered about 30" aft of the cabin back, both up and downwind. When running and reaching in heavy air, move the weight back another 12" to 18".

The most common trim errors are having too much weight aft when running in heavy air, and not enough weigh aft when reaching in moderate air. On a spinnaker reach in 12 to 14 knots of wind, the bow must be kept from digging in by shifting the crew weight aft. The spinnaker trimmer should be on the weather rail just forward of the cabin back, not at the mast. In light air when running, the crew weight should be centered fore-and-aft in or near the front of the companionway opening.

The Martin 242 is a straightforward boat to sail. Its simplicity allows less experienced sailors to get up to speed quickly, and to race evenly with the experts. Racing in this class is very close, and we hope the article will assist newcomers in their reach for the top.