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November 11, 2011

Contender 35 ST

A serious fishing machine that can be tailored to virtually any style of offshore angling

There’s no question that Contender’s 35 ST is a hard-core fishing machine, though the model we tested had at least two concessions to creature comfort. Like all Contenders, nearly everything within its 34½-foot vented hull was optional. “You tell us how you want it, and we’ll build it,” said Les Stewart, director of marketing for Homestead, Florida-based Contender Boats, as we idled away from Florida’s Sanibel Harbour Resort marina and headed out to the Gulf of Mexico. “Wait until you see how she runs,” Stewart added.

Performance
With three Yamaha F300s on the transom, the 35 ST jumped on plane in three seconds, vaulting to 30 mph in six seconds — not bad for a boat with a wet weight of around 12,000 pounds.

The triple outboards make a ­difference in hole shot versus twins. In prior testing with a pair of Yamaha F350s, the 35ST took 2.5 seconds longer to plane. At wide-open throttle, however, the extra 200 ponies gained only 1.5 mph over the twins, topping out at 6,000 rpm and 67.6 mph.

Surprisingly, the triples get the same optimum fuel economy as the twins. The three F300s burned 1.6 mpg at 3,000 rpm and 32.7 mph. This results in a 576-mile range, with 10 percent reserve in the 400gallon fuel tank.

Thanks to a pair of vents, the hull is very efficient. These create a cushion of air to reduce drag. “The aeration starts kicking in around 25 or 30 mph,” said Stewart, who estimates a 10 percent increase in mileage as a result.

The 35 ST tracks well in hard-over maneuvers. This is due in part to the 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom. The deep-V hull also helps smooth out rough seas for a better ride.

Fishing
Our test boat was set up for Florida-style offshore fishing, beginning with a rocket-launcher helm seat with a wraparound backrest, six rod holders and five recessed drink holders, which often serve as storage for loose hooks and weights. In the aft section, there was a 96-quart Frigid Rigid cooler that cleverly pulled out on rollers for easy access.

Speaking of clever, the coffin box looked pretty normal, until Stewart flipped a switch, hydraulically tilting the box to port for access to a storage locker below. Topped with a snap-on cushion and removable backrest, the coffin box did double-duty as a forward lounger. The center console was wide enough to shelter two healthy anglers, with a clear acrylic windshield to protect captain and co-pilot. Adorned with a T-top, the console was also rimmed by a recessed toe space (same for the seat and coffin box), and it featured a cozy, enclosed head with a step down to a permanent toilet and small sink. The electrical panel and battery switches are located here as well. You can order a front-entry console, which tournament anglers prefer for storing large balloons and helium tanks.

On the console dash, there was room for only one large multifunction display, and it was to starboard, while the helm for the U-Flex hydraulic steering was to port. On the port side of the dash was a tackle-storage compartment.

The roomy cockpit included a 50-gallon livewell below the nonskid deck. It had a clear, 1-square-foot acrylic hatch (that could be slippery). There was also a pair of 40-gallon tanks in the transom bulkhead. A transom door allows you to drag big fish on deck.

A removable L-shaped bench in the aft cockpit allows the crew to relax when not chasing fish. The rail cap was festooned with 12 flush-mount rod holders, and the gunwales were encircled with thick coaming pads. A recessed grab rail curved around the bow area.

Design and Construction
The 35 ST did not feel tender at rest, perhaps owing to its 9-foot, 8-inch beam and healthy reverse chines. The sheer line is flat, which gives the 35 ST a sleek and speedy profile.

Belowdecks, the 35 ST features a foam-cored fiberglass stringer system, and the hand-laid fiberglass construction uses multidirectional fabric. You will also find foam flotation throughout. Above deck, there’s a heavy-duty rub rail and nothing but stainlesssteel hardware.

In keeping with Contender’s custom-boat philosophy, there is a wide choice of hull and deck gelcoat colors, as well as selection of painted boot stripes. If you’re serious about getting to the fish quickly and efficiently, the 35 ST is a worthy Contender.


LOA: 34 ft. 6 in.
BEAM: 9 ft. 8 in.
DRAFT: 2 ft.
DEADRISE: 24 deg.
WEIGHT: Approx. 12,000 lb.
FUEL: 400 gal.
MAX POWER: 1,050 hp OB
MSRP: $338,934

Contender Boats / Homestead, Florida 33035 / 800-645-2906 / www.contenderfishingboats.com