There has always been something special about a Contest boat. As the yard prepares to launch its first motoryacht to date, this family-run concern is a textbook case of continuity on the one hand and forward-thinking innovation on the other. Now well into its second half-century, Contest Yachts has always set new standards in terms of design excellence, build quality, and superior seamanship. And the future looks set to be even more exciting than the past…
Contest Yachts was founded in 1959 by Ed Conijn, who rightly identified a clear market niche in the Netherlands for building first class boats from the latest generation of polyester materials. The first product was an open two-man leeboard boat called the Flying Dutchman, an instant success that served as the basis for the racing class of the same name. Over 600 examples of this enormously popular yacht were eventually built, giving an incredible foundation to Contest Yachts.
Ed Conijn’s next brainwave was to recognise and respond to demands for a fast cockpit sailboat. The first Contest 25 ushered in an era of series builds in Holland. Other new designs such as the Contest 27, 29 and 31 HT were unveiled during the 1960s and 70s as the yard became known well beyond the Dutch borders for its passion for innovation. Under the guidance of Ed’s son, Fritz Conijn, Contest grew into a yacht builder of global stature. Key highlights include the first yacht without an aft deck area, the Contest 33, which also broke new ground by replacing the helm with a steering wheel. Then there was the Dick Zaal-designed Contest 31HT, over 250 of which were sold.
After the victory of Australia in the 1983 America's Cup, Piet van Oosanen, designer of her winged keel, worked closely with Contest to enhance keel configurations and hydrodynamics. As the emphasis shifted from series builds to semi-custom yachts in the 1980s, Contest called in designers such as Georg Nissen and Doug Peterson. Smart teamwork has continued to be a hallmark of the Contest success story ever since as we work with many leading suppliers and create a range of exceptional interiors with wetzels brown partners.
The turn of the millennium saw the third generation of the family take the wheel as Arjen Conijn succeeded his father. Arjen decided to further increase the emphasis on performance and design, with all the yard’s range enjoying a makeover. Very much an evolution rather than a revolution, this process has been coupled with a string of new models.
The launch of the Contest 62CS in 2008 typified the yard’s commitment to a no-compromise approach to high quality and craftsmanship, and has more recently been followed up by the even larger 72CS. With a brand-new 42-footer in the pipeline and the first ever Contest motoryacht launched in January 2013, the Contest family is set to broaden even further in its scope.