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I own a 1988 Ericson 28 ft. I heard the same comment about the boat being a little tender. I just have not experienced it.
In 12-15 kts close hauled, the boat will heel to about 15-18 degrees and settle into a nice groove. At 20 kts, I am thinking about putting in the first reef, not because the rail is under water, but because the boat tracks and sails better at a 18 degree heel than a 25 degree of heel. At 30 kts, I have the second reef in.
The Ericson Exchange website mentioned in another post is a great source of information.
Be happy to answer any other questions. BTW: It is a great boat and fun to sail.