The dashing new contest 67cs sailing yacht seems to be upping the game in performance cruising circles.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel


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THE COVERS ARE OFF and the view is good at this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival. Two years ago, Contest Yachts of Holland announced a design partnership with top German studio judel/ vrolijk & co. The recently launched Contest 67CS proves just how good a move this was.

Contest has always innovated. Family run for three generations, there’s an inheritance of careful, progressive inventiveness in the DNA, and the twinning of talents that can be seen in this latest launch reveals a significant new, yet gentle, evolution.

Building to the best of Dutch semicustom standards, the focus has long been on high-end, trusty bluewater cruisers with – in more recent years – a modernising mind to mirror and combine changing attitudes to smart design, higher performance and upbeat lifestyle. Neat and sleek is the mantra, winning regattas in between sailing the world and lazing in A-list destinations.

In this new generation, the Contest 62CS impressed – then too the 72CS, followed by the 42CS. Now it’s the turn of the Contest 67CS, with again a refreshed approach.

“For us this was our first Contest, so a transition, and the geometry of the 72 provided our start point to develop again a more modern feel,” says Jan Kuhnert from the judel/vrolijk design team. “We kept the principles of the main features, the wraparound window and coachroof overhang, but with a little more dynamic shaping and styling. And we played a bit with the bulwark height, lowering that and lifting the freeboard a little for a slightly different, even more dynamic profile.”

Add to that a slimmer bow and broadened stern and the picture builds. The eyes following as we leave the dock with ‘World Premiere’ stickered on the lightly raked bow betrayed a lusting after our low-lidded look and that dynamism. Thirty knots blew across the deck and with a burst of drop-down bow thruster we spun out and away for a very real test of what might be considered the hybrid traits of high performance, short-handed operation and ocean safekeeping.

As the gusts came in closer to 40 knots, the press-button-reefed North 3Di sail plan on three-spreader carbon Hall spars shook off the punch with Waldron, Contest 67CS hull #01, knuckling down on her soft-turned chines for a stable, powerful ride.

Her handling was simple with central, podmounted mainsheet winch between the twin helm stations, always close to hand, and with headsail primaries again in good proximity and well set.

Both full forward and along side deck views were excellent with the helm position well sorted whether standing or seated, and the feel in the wheel is so real, so precise and light. No surprise it’s a Jefa system.

But to be this responsive and without any sense of overloading in these conditions as we fast tacked in seconds, charging along at 12 and almost 13 knots on a close reach, and upwind at nearly 10 on 22° apparent, yes 22°, is nothing short of phenomenal remembering that this is a cruising yacht with 39.5 tonne displacement on 18.5m/61ft waterline.

“I have never been on a boat that sails so close to the wind,” says her Owner.

Sailed again in lighter winds, she was still equalling and exceeding wind speeds and still pointing as high, which again would speed arrival way beyond others less able. With code sails flying from the structural sprit with hydraulic furlers integrated within, she just took off. In short, remarkable: fast, responsive, easily short-handed and secure across the weather spectrum.

Be it fashion or not, twin rudders are currently popping out of more and more hulls of almost any size. Part of the 67CS’s underlying politeness in easing helm and control is that judel/vrolijk know just when to twin, and when not, as here.

“The gain of twin rudders is in friction/ resistance when the windward rudder comes out of the water when you heel upwind, but heel angle needs to be around 20 degrees for the benefit,” says Johan Siefer, the project’s lead naval architect. “With this type of boat there is simply no real gain as we aim for less angle, and the windward rudder would drag in the water creating friction.”

There’s much in the design to keep her flat. From the start, the team looked to a lighter displacement compared with the fleet and the resultant weight-to-length ratio moved the LCB (longitudinal centre of buoyancy) forward, opening the way to flatter, wider lines aft. This makes for more stability and speed plus better control downwind while that slimmer bow boosts upwind numbers, too. A new L-shaped composite keel also contributes.

Structurally there were changes, too, with a new arrangement to stiffeners and longitudinals for increased rigidity, so aiding weight reduction. Less visible but in detail significant, also new fibres and core materials have been introduced into certain areas of Contest’s well regarded vacuum infused sandwich construction, with the overall effect of thinner core and thicker skin, and as always Lloyds certification.

In plan, there’s plenty of choice in configuration with options from conventional master suite aft, U-shaped galley and nav station on opposite sides of the saloon companionway, two mirrored guest suites forward, and bunked crew quarters in the bow, to alternatives including mid-ships bunked cabin and master or VIP suites forward.

In all, four cabins arranged as wished and, in Contest fashion, all joinery, detailing and finishing is to impeccable standards and absolutely to personal taste and specification in conjunction with Contest’s interior design partners, Wetzels Brown of Amsterdam.

Clever use is made of mirrors to trick the eye into seeing more space and light, and stowage is plentiful including deep lockers beneath sprung-easy-lift sofa and bed bases. The construct and detail is both clever and highly crafted, right down to the fold away, carbon poled, extra berth bunks in the forward guest cabins.

With this first Contest 67CS, the guiding inspiration is the Owner’s passion for jazz and love of fine cigars, from the yacht’s naming after renowned pianist Mal Waldron, to the interior taking cues from the cigar bars of the 1950s with dark and mid grain timbers, handstitched red leather-work and antique brass fittings, with this all contemporised in tidy multi-tone manner. Then there’s the humidor, a finely crafted custom creation within the yard’s brand-familiar, tulip shaped, occasional table.

“It was known I would like a humidor, but I never expected such as this, a piece of art,” says the Owner. “A real surprise, beautiful, fit for the history books of humidors!”

On handover of Waldron, her Owner discovered many more pleasant surprises, illustrating just how different a level of construction and detailing his family had stepped into from their two previous production yachts.

“Our earlier boat building experiences always involved a lot of stress, frustrations, even disasters, and ended with a lot less than expected. With Contest and Waldron it has been completely the other way around,” says the Owner. “We had everything we asked for and discovered a lot of good things, technical things that were never ‘marketed’ to us. Really nice things. A lot around safety that Contest considers normal, but are far from standard in regular boats.”

First mention goes to aspects of the touch-screen full ship’s management system with its deep level of monitoring and reporting both back to the screen and helm pedestals, and with particular reference to the bilge system.

Here not the scant norm of a scattering of pumps with clustered alarm but a single-pump operated, stem to stern central line with outboard spurs and sensors at every monitored point throughout Waldron’s five watertight compartments, and with also temperature sensing of the three swap-out pumps to pre-warn of potential impeller burn-out and advise change over.

There’s monitoring even of high side-level water in the galley and saloon and there are vacuum suction hoses both fore and aft to remove other overflow or spills.

Then there’s the out of engine room, redundant filter system. “On a normal boat,” says Waldron’s keeper, “when a fuel filter blocks it might take an hour or more to clear and clean before you can restart the engine. Here, with two of everything, the cooling system, too, you simply open a handy hatch and flip a lever diverting flow to a second filter so you can immediately restart the engine before cleaning the other filter while back underway.”

Tank management is also simplified with swap-over valves for the 1,600 litres of fuel and 900 litres of water, similarly simply accessed. Levels and pump activation are again via touch screen control.

To minimise water contamination risk, the default but alterable set is dock fresh water to port and the 150l/h Spectra water maker output to starboard.

Reducing risk and impact of contamination, the two fuel tanks have suction lines to take away surface water and each of engine, generator and heater has a separate height staged feed point to protect priorities.

This ease of access, operation and on-the-go maintenance typifies Contest’s meticulous approach to simplifying sophisticated systems, and a full standing height, dedicated technical room further evidences this.

Centralising the PLC based, combined, balanced inverter/charger energy system, this space is temperature controlled to optimise operation and efficiency. In case of PLC failure, which conventionally leads to a dead boat with all systems down, here there’s a failsafe back-up that, outside the PLC, ensures continuance of services essential to getting back to harbour such as nav lights, comms and pumps.

A further advantage of the technical room is the consolidation of noise making plant into a condensed and insulated environment, all part of Contest’s counter measures against the invisible enemy: noise and vibration.

Consulting with acoustic specialists Van Cappellen, the deployed deflection and prevention systems work to unusually good effect and clearly to the delight of Waldron’s Owner.

“They put such effort into this,” the Owner says. “If you have a boat in the Med and just head out for a couple of hours, it’s not such an issue. But we use our boat for really big trips, sailing for several days at a time. I never imagined they could make a boat as quiet on the move as this. At boat shows you can never tell. It’s only when out there, really sailing that you know about the noise. This boat is really, really quiet.”

That quietness is the result of so many considerations: a custom built V rather than off the shelf P bracket for the four blade Varifold Bruntons prop; the manner of deck and rig fitting insulation; the tautening of handrails with tensed aesthetic and tactile rod in place of noise prone wire; soft shackles and eyes in place of steel; frequency driven ventilation regulating blower speeds; water separation for generator exhaust, the water exiting below the waterline, only dry fumes above; integrating a garage fitted gas boiler into the climate control system for silent running at night and improved, fuel saving efficiency.

The measures of high quality and individual build are too many to detail within a review and here have already swung the focus away from the normal simplicity of discussing concept and effect, but that is writ large in the names of the combined creators and, of course, photography.

A final further mention must be made, though, of the extent of Contest’s own designed and self-engineered fittings exemplified in an ingenious, convenient and tidy shore power socket concealed within the pushpit’s polished architecture. A tiny detail, but detail defines outcome.

So welcome Waldron, the first of the new line. The second, Contest 67 #02, is launching soon.

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