The quality of Dutch craftmanship
Contest Yachts has grown into one of the largest and oldest family-run yards in the world. The company designs and builds semi-custom sailing yachts known for their safety, quality and beautifully bright interiors. With the construction of the Contest 85CS, the yard has stepped into the 80+foot sailing yacht sector.
Based in Medemblik, The Netherlands, on the edge of lake IJsselmeer, Contest Yachts is a third generation family firm now 57 years old. Three generations of Conijn have run the company, that began by building the small, but highly popular Flying Dutchman two-man trapeze dinghy in 1959. The dinghy developed into an Olympic class, weekenders and family cruisers followed, then small yachts conventionally featuring an aft deck.
Looking at Contest’s most recent launches and with the semi-custom flagship 85CS currently in build, this all seems long ago. The company has grown into one of the largest and oldest family-run yards in the world. Owner and managing director Arjen Conijn and his team design and build semi-custom sailing yachts known for their safety, quality and beautifully bright interiors.
“In terms of quality, the 67CS is perhaps the most impressive yacht under 80 feet in production today.”
Visiting the yard is a must-do for anyone interested in buying a high-quality yacht. In Medemblik the yard stretches along the waterfront and has continued to expand since 1970. Contest Yachts was one of the first yards to adopt the technique of vacuum infusion in the late 1990’s, a building technique that makes the hull of sailing yachts stronger and lighter at the same time. This technique has given the Dutch company a huge advantage over its competitors, with years of experience to fine-tune the process.
“Vacuum infusion allows us to work really precisely,” says Conijn, showing an example of two sections of glass fibre hulls: one from 1991 and one from 2001, the latter being close to twice as light and only half as thick. “By vacuum bagging the hull for 24 hours we remove 99.9 per cent of all air and remove any raisin that is not required. The result is a hull that is close to 70 per cent glassfibre and 30 per cent raisin. Which translates into two words that sailors really love: strong and light.”
Contests’ innovation demonstrates the build philosophy of the company, which stresses safety and quality construction. Conijn: “Next to quality, the yard has become known for building very comfortable yachts over the last two decades. We have recently tweaked our philosophy by bringing performance and design to the equation. Many of our clients are sailing in the Mediterranean, encountering light winds. These circumstances call for faster sailing yachts to avoid motoring. This is reflected in our new range of yachts. The 42CS and 67CS are fast and easy to sail. Even by a one- or two-handed crew.”
The 67CS is the first Contest yacht designed by the German naval architects judel/vrolijk & co. The biggest difference is to be seen when entering the saloon from the protected cockpit: a vast interior of bright oak veneer carpentry, quiet and peaceful, lit by sunlight falling through the coach roof windows. The modern interior is the result of working together with Wetzels Brown Partners from Amsterdam for interior design. “The interior is where the owner puts his soul into the boat,” says Conijn. “At Contest Yachts we think of sailing as a way of expressing your dreams and ambitions. Which is why we build our yachts with each owner’s highly personalised input.”
Using the best of materials, hand crafting and innovative technology, Contest Yachts works closely with each owner to design and deliver a strong, light and easily handled performance distance cruiser. This new concept – described by Conijn as ‘building dreams together’ – quickly became an international success and has taken Contest Yachts on a roll. The 42CS even won the prestigious European Yacht of the Year award in 2014.
“I think people recognise the concept behind our semi-custom approach,” says Conijn, ”We really listen to our clients and build our boats together, very much like a team. A semi-custom built yacht does cost more money and effort, but our clients are looking for something personal. They value the quality build of Contest Yachts in combination with the possibility of customization.”
Red leather panels
Conijn: “The main benefit of moving towards the custom end of yacht building, is the ability to create something unique.” He proudly shows the interior of the 67CS that conveniently happens to be docked at the yard. The ship features a saloon with beautiful red leather panels and a showpiece humidor set into a coffee table, to evoke the atmosphere of a stylish jazz club.
Another appealing item is the engine room beneath the saloon, next to the sound-insulated machinery boxes. Conijn: “The weight from the generator, airco, hydraulic and batteries is centralised, resulting in a low point of gravity. As a benefit this setup is making the yacht extremely quiet to operate. All electrical components are housed in a walk-in technical room. Because we do almost all construction on site, we can cater to most clients’ wishes and still ensure our high standard of safety and engineering.”
Contests’ first ever motor boat
Next to building sailing yachts, Contest Yachts embarked upon an altogether different adventure in 2011: the design and construction of the Contest 52 MC, Contests’ first ever motor boat.
The MC-range quickly became a succes, with nine boats built within the first four years. Conijn: “This project came about because my parents, both avid sailors, started looking for a comfortable motor yacht that would take them places. Being his critical self, my father decided to develop a motor boat that would appeal to sailors. This resulted in the 52MC, a dry boat, absolutely seaworthy and equally comfortable at 8 or 28 knots.”
Being the joint creation of design partner Georg Nissen, the engineering and designer company Vripack and the yard’s own in-house design team, the 52MC developed into a versatile platform. The 52MC is available in sedan, open sport and fly bridge versions. Interior layouts are customisable too. The interior revolves around a spacious glazed deck saloon with two or three ensuite sleeping cabins. The fly bridge offers optional layouts too.
Conijn: “The 52MC’s wide walk-around decks and high bulwarks with handrails reinforce it’s seaworthiness. You can feel the boat is designed by a sailor: it’s safe and easy to handle at sea, with good working areas in the bow and large aft cockpit.”
The Contest 52MC is powered by twin 550hp (410kW) Cummins engines. The half-planing hull rides through the nastiest chop, spray rails cascading the breaking water away. The 52 MC is available with thrusters for bow and stern, as well as a Seakeeper stabilizer.
The Contest Group
The Contest Group is based in Medemblik, Holland on the edge of lake IJsselmeer. Next to Yacht Building and Design, the Contest Group offers Customer Care, Refit, Total Yacht Care and Brokerage services. Contest Yachts is founded in 1959 and still in family ownership.
Contest Yachts is represented in 16 nations throughout Europe to North America’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts and Korea serving Asia and the Pacific Rim by Contest Yachts sales and support.
The Contest range of performance blue water sailing yachts includes eight models spanning 42ft to 85ft (13m to 26m) to suit club sailing, offshore cruising and world circling whether shorthanded as a couple or with full family and friends and both private and charter.