The Contest 55 model, with a length of 17 meters, occupies a middle position in the Dutch shipyard’s model range. During testing in 2019, skipper Alessio Cannoni noted the essence of sailing on a large yacht: “If a large sailing yacht is poorly managed, then it is pointless to acquire it, then it is better for the owner to buy a motorboat.” This statement is disarmingly simple and absolutely right. Sailing should be fun, and Contest 55 delivers just that.
Despite its 25-ton displacement, the yacht is very light and sensitive to the steering wheel. It is easy to control, and you can confidently navigate gusts of wind “along the edge” of the ship. The rudder feedback force is optimal for a boat of this size, noticeable enough for boaters who like to stand at the helm, and yet relatively low for stable operation by the autopilot.
Hydraulic tensioners for the backstay and boom guys are worth noting, as the design bureau Judel/Vrolijk and Co. did an excellent job. The shipyard built a very rigid hull based on their drawings, which perfectly perceives the transmitted force from the mast and rigging.
The tacking angle and speed on a sharp course are ideal, with less than 90 degrees and almost 8 knots on the log. Even with gusts of about 20 knots, the log shows about 12 knots at half-wind. Pleasure at the helm is the charm of this ship. The Dutch beauty allows itself to be guided with precision, leaning slightly to one side when a gust of wind comes. The acceleration is reminiscent of light dinghies, only it’s 17 meters long and 5 meters wide.
During the test, the yacht sailed beautifully, especially when turning code zero. Although the shallow waters slow the ship down a bit, the yacht’s handling is unbelievably good for this size. Even when the waterway goes into the water, everything on the ship remains under control, and there’s not a hint of the broach. Due to the reduced mainsail area and lower CPU, the yacht ultimately sails at a faster speed.
Contest 55 gives pleasure to the person at the helm, resolving the eternal paradox between comfort and sailing pleasure. With electric and hydraulic assistants, sailing on this yacht is quick and easy. The yacht is so easy to handle and prepare for departure that it’s not difficult to arrange a short, exciting walk in the evening after work.
Although the power-to-weight ratio of 4.4 is not too high, and if the wind is blowing at a speed of 8 rather than 18 knots, the Contest will certainly seem a bit heavy. However, on the day of testing, we did not notice this circumstance because of the strong wind. If you don’t want to go home after a short exciting walk, Contest 55 offers a truly homely experience.
In conclusion, the new Contest 55 proved to be surprisingly nimble under sail, with the perfect build quality, hydraulic tensioners for the backstay and boom guys, and an optimal rudder feedback force. It handles well and provides pleasure at the helm, making sailing quick and easy.
The Contest 55 is a yacht that lives up to its class. It boasts a clear height below the deck of over two meters, an owner’s cabin with a berth measuring 1.80 by 2.00 meters, and showers with dimensions of 70 by 80 centimeters. These are just a few examples of the yacht’s real usability and attention to detail.
The shipyard has demonstrated its experience in detail, emphasizing usability without sharp corners or poorly finished edges. Handles, handrails, and railings are present, but they blend seamlessly into the interior.
The standard version of the yacht has six beds, including two on a bunk bed. There are regular options for interior design, but the shipyard is ready to implement customer requests if possible.
Customers will appreciate the attention to detail, such as the woodwork where not a single self-tapping screw is visible in the interior, and all handrails and edge trims are made of complex, one-piece, and extremely durable parts. The wood pattern is carefully selected, and all gaps and seams are uniform.
There are plenty of additional details on board Contest 55, such as the wiring of all hydraulics to reduce the number of fittings in the body. The sound and vibration isolation of the engine compartment is excellent, and the fuel filtration system is easily accessible. The yacht is a very easy-to-use cruiser on the high seas, which also has good sailing characteristics.
The Contest 55 is a superb long-range cruiser with a graceful appearance and surprisingly good driving performance. Excellent build quality is a family tradition at the Contest shipyard, and the third generation of the family does not want to lag behind in this regard.
While the cost of the Contest 55 may be higher than some other designs, its attention to detail, usability, and sailing characteristics make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a luxury cruising experience.