The boat for a circumnavigation without a crew
YACHT CLASS N°10 (Sept-oct-nov 2017)
With more than 4 000 sailboats since its creation in 1959, the Dutch shipyard Contest is taking the next step in its upmarket positioning by calling in the German studio Judel/Vrolijk for this 67 foot sloop, exclusively dedicated to offshore cruising. A true concentrate of experience and talent…
Text : Emmanuel de Toma - Photos : DR et E. de Toma.
Meadows, mills, wind turbines, bicycles, drawbridges of a Van Gogh plus nice houses from the 17th century. Medemblik is a charming village of North Holland flanked by canals and ponds, in border of the Ijsselmeer where tjalk, platbodem and traditional sailboats coexist with the most contemporary units. There, along the Overleek Canal, are located since 1965 the many warehouses of Contest shipyard. Enthusiastically, Marcel Offereins, the sales manager, presents the multiple steps of the development of these sailboats that, since 1972, have met the drastic standards of Lloyd’s Register. Materials and their use have certainly evolved in 45 years - Contest was in its time one of the world's first shipyards to use the refine vacuum resin injection technique - but its first concern has always remained the same : producing solid and safe boats. In the workshops – all Lloyds certified - the utmost care is given to the infusion moulding that, thanks to a 30% of vinyl ester resin for 70% of fiberglass composition, brings both lightness and a great robustness to balsa sandwich hulls. "Thanks to the infusion, the resin seeps in between balsa blocs, to offer a maximum resistance", explains Marcel Offereins. It will also be reinforced with laminated rails and ribs on Corecell foam, then with sandwich bulkheads, also laminated to the hull and later to the deck. Icing on the cake, unlike many shipyards that just glue the deck, here it will also be bolted every 15 cm on a beamshelf moulded with the hull. Let's also underline that a monobloc bulkhead ensures the aft compartment sealing, to avoid shipwreck in case the rudder gets ripped off. Electrical wiring, mechanics, carpentry, decoration... all the construction stages are subject to the same care and inventiveness coming from the in-house r&d department to attain the fundamentals of an outstanding sailboat. A boat not only exceptionally robust but also where everything can be operated and accessible in the course of years and daring sailings. "This explains why Contests are more expensive than other boats", precise our guide. "But to those insinuating that their weight is a handicap, we simply remind them that a solid hull can carry a heavier keel for comfort and a larger mast for speed". And he concluded with a smile "after a few circumnavigations. Their doors can still be closed. That's significant, isn't it ? "
Two famous architects
Near the vast warehouses is moored the 67CS, the second of this new family penned by Fietje Judel and Rolf Vrolijk. These two architects are notably famous for their sketches of Team Alinghi's boat, winner of the America's Cup 2003. But this hull, exclusively intended for the cruise, has none of the excesses we can find on those offshore racers. Just the vertical bow to lengthen the waterline, round and regular sections for a good stability of shapes plus a central main-beam. There is not even a double rudder, which according to the designers would be just a fashion compromise considering that she should not overly list. Still, the hull flanked with discreet rectangular portholes displays an exceptional elegance, surprisingly reinforced by a solid stemhead. This appendix is so robust that it can carry the sailboat front stay without a bobstay.
The discreet roof that continues to the aft with beautiful coamings confirms the intention to refine the silhouette while giving the accommodation both the height and the comfort essential to long cruises. Everything in this hull predicts peaceful sailings, but thanks to her technical specificities aforementioned, this 67CS can also fly a mast over 30 metres. Undoubtedly, with 253 m2 of upwind sail area for less than forty tons of displacement, she also promises fine performances ... But, can she keep the promise to remain operable by two ?
Ten knots sailing upwind in a Force 4
As a matter of fact, they were only two, a man and a woman, to embark on this beautiful spring day for some trial on the Ijsselmeer. At the helm, everything is simple. Once into the wind : the skipper just has to ease out the sheet on the massive winch of a central console, then press the "main out" button to see the mainsail in the mast deploys in a few seconds. A boom vang button, a backstay one and this is it ! Without letting go of the helm, a press on "genoa" unfolds the 108 m2. Only one quick manoeuvre requires to reconnect with ancient traditions : four turns of the sheet around the large Lewmar and trim on... using the button at the foot of the winch. Let's say that if we rarely sail upwind on cruises, this speed is perfect to tell all about a sailboat's talents. The figures speak volumes. 16 knots of real wind : 9.5 knots of speed. 17 knots of real wind : 10 knots of speed. From 18 knots of wind on, the list gets stronger. The helmsman has a beautiful rounded floor under his feet. But the crew member would like one or two footrests on the way to the transom. Two teak sticks would be enough to secure the path without altering the aesthetics of the teak deck. At this point, the 67CS is keeping her promises, but the best is yet to come. With the sheet wildly hardened, the boat is eager to sail close to the wind. At 30 degrees, she still strongly goes at 8 knots ! The worldwide reputation of the Hamburg-based architecture firm is well-deserved. The mechanical transmission of the steering wheels ensures a perfect control of the route without concealing her fiery temperament. Perhaps, during cruises, the mainsail would need to be reduced from 18 or 20 knots of real wind and upwards to achieve balance, even if it means losing some speed. When tacking, the genoa must be furled and then unrolled to pass between the two stays, which is really easy and fast thanks to the powerful Reckman hydraulic furlers. Sailing to broad reach. 9.7 knots with 16 knots of real wind and an extreme comfort. No doubt, the cruise promises to be as nice as fast. Note, however, that this test was carried out on very flat water. In a choppy sea however, it will be certainly essential to keep all the sail for a long while to ensure some power against the waves and thus to accept to contain the boat's ardour.
Inside, the world of silence…
Let's leave this aft deck devoted to the manoeuvre, then go through the "passengers" cockpit and its two beautiful tables and deep sofas to finally reach the saloon, accessible via five curved steps secured by two leather handrails. In this vast area lit by the deckhouse bay windows, deck hatches and hull openings, we are overwhelmed with a sweet and peaceful sensation. At 10 knots under sails, silence reigns. We even hardly hear the crewman walking on the deck. The soundproofing is perfect. Later, with the engine running (2080 rpm, 8.4 knots), the sound level meter will only measure 64 decibels in the saloon, and even in the owner's cabin. With this calm also comes the eyes delight. Light oak, furniture with rounded corners put together with precision, white leather ceiling, unbleached thick canvas sofas... The designer, Gillian Brown from Wetzels Brown Partners, has done wonders by integrating in her decoration the Contest spirit : elegant and marine, as outlined by the many leather-clad handrails. To port : the living room with its sofa for seven to eight people and ovoid-shaped coffee table. To starboard : the dining area and a thick oak table surrounded by soft sofas and armchairs that can be attached to the table in case of list. A refined detail : the saloon table diagonally slides to facilitate access to the sofa. To the left of the companionway, two steps lead to a complete galley, with a retractable extractor hood but no porthole opening... The seafaring spirit is everywhere : all tables and worktops are fitted with fiddles to prevent any falling objects when listing. Similarly, glasses are suspended in their stowage. To the right of the companionway is located a very classic navigation area. A passage between the toilet and the engine access leads to the owner's aft cabin. This full beam en-suite master is situated in the best location possible, where boat movements are the gentlest. 25 m2 of refinement around a queen size bed, topped by a large deck hatch bringing in light and fresh air. Two wardrobes, a dressing table, four cabinets with drawers furnish this room that combines light oak for the floor, dark ones for furniture and white leather for linings. Two en-suite cabins, more modest but equally meticulous, are located forward the carbon mast, on each side of a corridor leading to the sailor's cabin, which has a wide roof hatch to have direct access to the deck. On the technical aspect, in addition to the reassuring compliance to the Lloyds, special attention was paid to the organs accessibility. A detail that speaks volumes : the various engine filters (diesel, decanter, etc.) are gathered in a small closet near the galley...
Undoubtedly, this is a new impetus for the Medemblik shipyard with the collaboration of the naval architecture studio Judel-Vrolijk and the loyal designer Gillian Brown. Heir of half a century of experience in the construction of marine and safe sailboat, this 67 foot deserves her berth in the closed circle of units over 20 metres truly operable by two. She will be displayed at the Cannes Yachting Festival.
Family business !
After building his own boat in laminated plywood in 1953, Ed Conijn founded the Conyplex shipyard for the production of Flying Dutchman. Six years later was launched the first Contest, a 25-foot Luyten-plan, quite successful abroad with three hundred units sold in the USA. In 1976, his son Fritz took over the shipyard after studying law. Those were also the days when the famous Contest 33 and the wing keel development turned upside down the America's Cup. Their boats had then been for a long time built to meet to the Lloyds' regulation. In 2005, the grand-son of the founder, Arjen Conijn, took the helm, and his sister Annick the marketing. In our presence, father and son (Fritz and Arjen) proclaim in unison the motto of the most family shipyard : "we have always built solid boats. Now they are also performant while remaining true to the quality and comfort characterising Contests. The family spirit remains strong, even among our employees where the elder ones train the youngest. These precious ties stretch to our clients who, thanks to our semi-custom production, have a say in creating and customising their layout". Arjen concluded : "the 67 CS is the boat for a circumnavigation. The size is perfect to sail without a crew, in all conditions".
- Overall length: 21,71 m
- Flotation : 18,50 m
- Mid-ship beam: 5,65 m
- Displacement : 39, 5 t
- Draft : 2,95 m
- Ballast: 13,5 t
- Air draught : 30,75 m
- Main sail : 145 m²
- Genoa : 108 m²
- Fuel : 1 590 l
- Water : 988 l
- Engine: Volvo Penta D4 turbo 180 ch.
- Price : 2 598 000 € H.T
- Architect : Judel/Vrolijk
- Interior designer : Wetzels Brown Partners
- Builder : Contest Yachts (Medemblik - Pays-Bas)
- Importer : Firros Yachts (Cannes)