There is something about the look of the Martin 242 that makes it stand out in the gaggle of 24-footers you find in most marinas today. It’s difficult for it to hide. The tall fractional rig, with its huge main, is a dead giveaway. This is not your ordinary weekender. There is something about its knuckled forefront and wide, slightly racked transom that suggests speed and power.
The boat is, I think, a wolf in wolf’s clothing. The Martin 242 makes no pretense about what it is: a lightweight, maneuverable speedster that will perform for you on the racecourse and tolerate you for a weekend.
Built by Martin Yachts of Richmond, B.C., and marketed in Ontario by Jeff Parker of Martin Yachts Ontario, the prototype was winning races in 1980. Don Martin drew her lines without regard to rating. She was conceived as a one-design with strict class rules. A small 110 per cent roller-furling jib, one main and one spinnaker were to be her sail inventory. Although about 150 have been built to date, most are out west, and an M242 class has not yet formed in Ontario. The boats in Ontario are racing MORC and PHRF, where sail inventory includes a 150 per cent genoa and the 242 class restrictions are eased. It is possible to buy a factory-modified MORC version of the boat that includes such modifications as inboard shrouds, extra hull stiffening and inboard genoa tracks.
The Martin 242 has met with great success on the racecourse. Fifth overall and top Canadian boat at the MORC Internationals in 1984, it finished second in the ARK one-design regatta in British Columbia in 1983 with a fleet of five major designs ranging from 24 to 30 feet.
The M242’s construction details and methods are up to industry standards and hold no surprises. The hull and deck and cored and both have full liners. The hull-deck joint is an outboard rolled flange that has been bonded together. This should prove to be a watertight joint, but it exposes the raw edges of the hull and deck to impact damage. The cockpit is huge. Bench seating makes it comfortable at the dock, while the radiused edges and canted side decks allow the crew to sit out when sailing. The traveler divides the cockpit and, as usual, I managed to bark my shims on it. The position of the traveler provide excellent mainsheet control and with practice would present no problem. The test boat had been used often, raced hard and had some modifications that were not done by the builder. Jeff Parker assured me that details like backing plates on stanchion bases and the inboard shroud anchors and chainplates were up to industry standards on factory production boats.
Going below was easy-one small step for mankind. It is a very basic interior; two quarter berths and a V berth. One basic problem is that the backrests on the quarter berths are too far outboard and your head hits the cabin side before your back contacts the backrest. When sitting in this position you spend a lot of time contemplating your navel!
If you plan to spend weekends on board, an opening hatch on the sloping panel of the coachroof would allow air to circulate on those hot muggy nights. Here I go again! Add this, add that. This is an ultralight boat, I must remind myself. It was designed and built that way. It performs the way it does because it is an ultralight. Next thing you know I’ll be adding a boom gallows and a CQR. People like me must drive designers up the wall. The obvious compromise made here was to concentrate on sailing performance and handling while providing only the basics for staying aboard. The boat lives up to this design philosophy well.
Enough already about changing and adding. Let’s go sailing. We fired up the outboard and headed out into the bay. What can you say about outboards on the transoms of sailboards? They are things to be tolerated and not be trusted. I guess to be kind you could say they are light, produce no drag when raised and if they give any trouble, they can be underdone and quietly deep-sixed with some feeling of finally getting even.
The wind was blowing eight to 10 knots true and gusting perhaps to 15 knots true. All sail controls lead aft along the cabintop to each side of the companionway. Mainsail controls on the starboard side, jib and spinnaker on the port side. Easy! We hoisted the main, adjusted the vang, cunningham, backstay and mainsheet and were off. With just the big main she sails and handles very well. For occasional daysailing she could be sailed on the main only. We hoisted the 110 per cent jib and beat up the bay.
Boy, it felt like a dinghy — light and responsive. I got the feeling, as we heeled in the puffs, that it probably likes to be sailed flat to keep it moving. The 242 spun literally in her own length, thanks to the high-aspect keel and deep inboard rudder. It didn’t carry much way during the tacks because of its light displacement, but it accelerated quickly and got up to speed with very little fuss. During the puffs, it was possible to depower the main by tightening the backstay and allowing the top section of the sail to spill. The large main produces the horsepower and with vang, mainsheet, traveler, cunningham, backstay and halyard, there are a lot of strings to pull, but when you get everything correct, it pays off in fantastic sailing. Tacking the jib is easy. Most of the time the small one can be trimmed by hand.
Time to get the chute up. We hoisted from a rabbit, which is faster than a turtle (everybody knows that). The rabbit is a canvas pouch that fits in the main companionway slides. The chute is packed in, the sheet and guy are hooked up and the companionway slide is closed over it. The spinnaker lives under there until you are ready to hoist. We bore away, hooked up the pole and the halyard, slid back the main hatch and hoisted away. I steered downwind as Jeff dropped the jib and trimmed the chute. The apparent wind was now about five or six knots and we had a little chop in the bay, which bounced the wind out of the sails. When we went onto a reach, the boat accelerated and began showing its speed. Under these conditions, the helm was well balanced and the 242 responded to any change in trim with a change in speed.
If you think you’ll be spending weekends on the boat, an optional interior feature is a portable galley, including a stove and a sink, which slides out from under the cockpit. This, along with a portable cooler and a boom tent, would set you up in a camping-like atmosphere.
Standard equipment includes bow and stern pulpits, lifelines, spinnaker gear, an electrical package, cushions and sails (main, jib and spinnaker). This standard feature boats sells for $21,000. Sent to Toronto with a few extra goodies you could probably get away with $23,500 to $24,000. For 24 feet of boat with the standard equipment, this is excellent value for your money.
It is a simple boat in a positive sense. Simple to rig and sail, simple to manoeuver, simple to maintain and, in one-design fleets, simple to stay competitive.
Just remember, as I have: it’s an ultralight design and loading it down will slow it down. If you want microwaves and refrigeration, buy a motorhome to go with your Martin 242. It will make a great place to store your sailing trophies.
LOA 24 ft. 2 in.
LWL 20 ft. 3 in.
Beam 8 ft.
Draft 4 ft. 9 in.
Displacement 2,700 lbs.
Sail Area 280 sq. ft
Originally Published in the October 1985 of Canadian Yachting magazine.