The new Contest 55CS is one of the most anticipated sailboats of the market. After the great success of her official presentation at Boot Dusseldorf, she immediately became a “bestseller”, with the entire 2021 production sold and the next deliveries available only in 2022.
This is an extraordinary achievement, especially if we consider that her starting price, with North standard sails and electronic pack included, amounts to 1.7 million euros, VAT excluded. Apparently high, this price is, instead, commensurate to the high customization and building quality levels that make Contest Yachts’ creations simply unique.
Furthermore, the Contest 55CS marks a new evolutionary leap for the shipyard that, with this model, introduces a modern and intriguing design combined with definitively interesting performance, especially if we consider the easy handling of this “blue water cruiser”, conceived for double-handed cruising in all weather and sea conditions.
You will there understand that we did not hesitate when we were proposed to sea trial this sailboat, in absolute preview, in the waters of Medemblik, Holland.
Climbing on board a bew Contest yacht is always exciting. Especially if you do it here, where the landscape, enchanted, seems to come out of a fairy tale.
The Boreas – this is the name of the Contest 55CS we’re testing – measures more than 18 meters (including the bowprit) and weighs 25 tons. Yet, thanks to the manoeuvring thrusters, casting off and leaving the port is easy.
We are in the IJsselmeer, an arm of the North Sea closed by the Afsluitdijk, a dam that creates a hige saltwater lake, which measures 1,100 square kilometers and is only 5 meters deep on overage. This feature means that very steep and short waves develop inside, resulting into a meaningful test bench for us, especially in terms of upwing performance, where the boat is faced with real “liquid steps” that try to stop its motion.
As soon as we are out of the port, at the push of a button, the self-tacking sails appear. They are of the highest quality, especially the mainsail which, although furling, is equipped with vertical sticks and has an excellent shape. The jib is a classic 105% one, perfect for short-handed cruising.
We bear away and the Boreas takes off like a rocket. In this first test phase, the true wind is blowing at 15 knots and the Contest 55CS always sails between 8 and 9 knots, regardless of the wind angle. The rudder is direct and the wheel impresses every slightest change of course with precision.
In a 50-degree apparent wind, we are sailing at 9.4 knots, well beyond the theoretical hull speed, without the boat hinting to sit on the stern; it’s a bit like it could accelerate to infinity, without having to respond to the laws of physics. Judel and Vrolijk have done a great job with these waterlines.
But what amazes the most is the sailing comfort, simply absolute. The Contest 55CS sails upwind and crosses the waves without nearly pitching, without impacts and, above all, without slowing down.
I hug the wind and the Boreas slightly slows down. In a 30-degree apparent wind, we are still sailing at 8.5 knots. I hug a little more, which is usually possible only on a racing boat, and, at 25 degrees, we are still sailing at over 8 knots. Amazing!
Then, the true wind gets fresher and settles on 20 degrees. We take the mainsail a little in and, finally, discover the “blue water cruiser” nature of the Contest 55CS.
In such conditions, on board most sailboats, with the apparent head wind marking 26-27 knots, the crew usually beings to get nervous and alert. On board the Contest 55C, instead, everything is quiet, we sail as if there was a 10-knot true wind, the boat is always controllable and sails perfectly stable; even under gusts, it remains tempered. The only thing it does is accelerate.
Speed, in fact, increases up to 10 knots and, even in broad reach, is always high, preserving absolute comfort on board.
Relunctantly, I leave my colleague take the helm and go below deck to see if the famous “Contest effect”, due to the foam core used by the shipyard during the vacuum lamionation process, is percevable even on board the Contest 55CS.
Just go down the first luxury step that leads to the dinette to realize that. The temperature becomes midler and the noises are significantly muffled. It’s a unique sensation that can only be experienced on board this shipyard’s boats.
This feature translates into a no-stop comfortable cruising experience in all sea and weather conditions, including cold and hot weather. Moreover, the lamination system brings important advantages in terms of insulation, an aspect often ignored by most modern boat manufacturers.
Uninterrupted sailing is exactly what you think of when being on board the Contest 55CS. A pleasure reserved for the few and intelligent owners that will choose to have a masterpiece like this.
|Sailing performance||15-knot true wind||20-knot true wind||Performance under engine|
|Apparent Wind Angle||Speed in knots||Speed in knots||Rpm||Speed in knots|
Just past the hatway, the passenger is immediately impressed by the interior design that presents itself as a perfect combination of classic and modern style, another masterpiece signed by Wetzels Brown Partners. Immediately after, the attention is captured by the finishes, individual works of great craftmanship and small masterpieces of cabinet making. The environment, with its particularly warm tones, is neat and classy. No construction detail is left to chance, just as there is no trace of a sharp edge. Luxury and elegance are palpable everywhere, even in the most hidden recesses.
The dinette, high and bright, gives the feeling of being in a real salon that, thanks to its ample spaces, is capable of offering an excellent level of comfort to numerous guests, who all find a place to sit comfortably.
The wide windows flood this semi-raised saloon with an incredible amount of natural light, pushing the boundaries of this space beyond its natural borders.
The sofas, in cream-coloured fabric in this version, face each other and exploit the maximum beam of the dinette: this results into an incredible easy circulation within this space. A large pouf, an extendable table and a chart table with two displays complete a sophisticate and functional decor of unprecedented beauty.
The owner of this Contest 55CS has chosen to position a 50-inch TV screen where, in addition enjoying movies on the evenings on the quay, it is also possible to replicate the cartography which thus appears decidedly immense.
The galley, which develops on the left side of the Contest 55CS, is fully-equipped and allows, thanks to its long and comfortable tops, to prepare even the most elaborate dishes, while being under way. A rectangular and oblong window allows the chef to have natural light available, where it is needed, and also to take a look at the landscape while he is busy at the stove.
The master cabin is dominated by a king-size bed, on the sides of which there are large windows overlooking the sea. Two reading lights on the sides and white spotlights on the ceiling delicately illuminate a large, extremely welcoming environment. And here, too, the finishes give an unmistakable touch of charm to a master cabin so elegant that it looks like a suite.
One of the main peculiarities of Contest Yachts is the opportunity given to the owner to customize his boat, which is therefore studied and built by the shipyard around his needs, without however betraying the (very high) quality that distinguishes the Contest 55CS, an authentic rare pearl.
|Length overall||17 m||55.77 ft|
|Length including bowsprit||18.10 m||59.38 ft|
|Length waterline||15.83 m||51.94 ft|
|Maximum beam||5.02 m||16.47 ft|
|Displacement||24,960 kg||55,027 lbs|
|Draft standard keel||2.55 m||8.37 ft|
|Mast height above waterline||26.10 m||85.30 ft|
|Main sail||92.75 m2||1,087 ft2|
|Genoa 106%||71 m2||767 ft2|
|Fuel tank||850 lt||187 imp. gal.|
|Water tank||725 lt||159.5 imp. gal.|
|Engine||110 kW||150 hp|