“Push it hard. We’re late,” said Gus Solis, the go-for-the-gusto president of Gus’ Toy Box (GTB), the Contender Boats dealer in Key Largo, Florida. Capt. Treavor Frins nodded in agreement and asked everyone to get ready for a blazing run.
We were aboard the new Contender 39 Fisharound, outbound from Florida’s Homestead Bayfront Marina. An impatient live-bait dealer in the Miami Beach Marina was holding the last of his goggle eyes, threadfin herring and pilchards, and Solis did not want to keep him waiting on this October morning.
In the aft cockpit, Contender’s director of sales and marketing Jordan Delong, videographer Jake Snider, mate Jake Turek and I held tight as Frins turned north and punched the throttles. Within seconds, the triple Yamaha F350 outboards vaulted the big step hull to 58 mph at 5,000 rpm, running smoothly across the choppy waters of Biscayne Bay.
Handling also proved superb as we wound our way along the tricky shortcut channel extending north from the Rickenbacker Causeway to the south side of the Port of Miami. We arrived at the marina in less than 30 minutes.
While the crew gingerly loaded live bait in the twin, pressurized 40-gallon transom livewells, I explored the step-down center cabin, accessible via a pocket door on the port side of the bridge deck. Inside I found 6 feet 5 inches of headroom, a queen berth in the forward area with a 19-inch flat-screen TV on a swivel mount, an enclosed head compartment on the port side with a uniquely designed bifold door that expands the privacy area for showers, and a galley aft with a stove, sink, microwave and roomy drawer-style refrigerator/freezer.
“Each Contender is custom built to customer specifications,” Solis said. “This boat, for example, has a Koehler 5 kW gas generator and a 7,500 BTU air-conditioning system for the cabin.”
Solis has assisted in sea trialing the 39, including taking it on a trip to the Bahamas, where he and his family overnighted and found the AC indispensable. “We ran the generator almost all of the time,” he revealed. “It’s so quiet, you almost forget it’s there.”
Two topside features add to the family appeal, including a transom bench seat that stretches from the port quarter to the inward-opening transom door in the starboard quarter. The seat proved easy to remove, which is what we did to clear the transom for action during our Fish Trial, stowing it in the cabin.
The 39 also reveals its softer side in an expansive padded lounge large enough for two people atop the forward portion of the cabin. Angled backrests invite even hardcore anglers to kick back and relax.
As we departed the marina and headed out through Miami’s Government Cut, I joined Capt. Frins at the helm, where he outlined his game plan. “We’re going to kite-fish for sails along the inner edge of the Gulf Stream,” he explained. Frins is the captain for the GTB‑sponsored Hillbilly Deluxe fishing team, which took first place in the 2016 Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament, based out of Islamorada, Florida.
Frins advanced the Yamaha electronic-throttle controls, bringing the outboards to 4,000 rpm, where the boat ran at a very comfortable 44 mph in the 2- to 3-foot seas. The three-across Llebroc helm seats with flip-up bolsters offered outstanding support. Each is electrically adjustable fore and aft to suit individual crew members. A wraparound, full-height polycarbonate windshield protected the helm.
A pair of flush-mounted Garmin GPSMAP 8617 17-inch multifunction displays — networked with the Garmin chirp fish finder, dome radar and autopilot — helped guide the way. We arrived at the fishing grounds in 200 feet of water near Fowey Light, and Frins ascended to the tower station, which featured a buggy top for shade and a networked Garmin GPSMAP 7608 display. While we did not use outriggers on this trip, the tower hardtop was also equipped with a pair of Rupp Z-30s.
Stable and Able
A 10 to 15 mph breeze out of the north bucked the Gulf Stream current, resulting in ideal conditions for kite-fishing. The 10-foot-10-inch beam provided outstanding stability while deploying the kites.
The huge aft cockpit offered plenty of room to work. Plus, the tackle storage and rigging station with a foldout table, including six rod holders, abaft the helm seats served as a convenient location to tie up lines. A 67-quart Frigid Rigid cooler at the base of the station extends aft at the push of a button for easy access to drinks or frozen baits.
The crew barely got the baits out when a sailfish attacked the left middle line. Solis grabbed the rod, free-spooled the reel to let the sail eat, then pushed forward the lever drag and wound tight to set the hook. The fish uncorked a series of leaps in a northerly direction. Eighteen-inch-wide walkways aside the cabin allowed Solis to quickly follow the fish forward. A grit-style nonskid sole assured excellent traction.
While Solis battled the fish, I noticed that the forward gunwales are virtually the same height as those in the stern — about 25 inches all around — making it easy to work a fish around the bow. The level-deck design eliminates tripping points, and the down slope from bow to stern quickly channels any water aft. Deep gutters around hatches facilitate swift drainage of the self-bailing deck.
A recessed grab rail in the bow offers a place to hold on in rough seas. For those days when you want to anchor on a wreck, this 39 featured an in-stem anchor chute and roller, plus a Lewmar horizontal windlass concealed in the anchor locker.
Within about 10 minutes, Solis had the fish boatside for release. While we moved south a couple of miles to reset the kites, I checked out some of the features under the deck, including a cavernous dry-storage compartment forward. A pair of massive fish lockers flank the deck in the aft cockpit. You also have the option to order a third belowdecks livewell.
The vented pump box in the bilge of the 39 Fisharound is well-suited to deliver a steady stream of life-sustaining water — free of aeration — to the wells, thanks to three pumps and three outlets. A clear acrylic cover lets you keep an eye on the water level in the pump box.
A second sail bit soon after the first, and this one put on an astonishing aerial display. Solis fought the fish around the boat twice before bringing it boatside for another release.
With two sails on the scoreboard and a squall line on the horizon, we decided to call it a morning and head back to the dock to offload two crew members, and then run out to the bay to collect performance data. With 250 gallons of fuel, livewells full of water and bait, and four people aboard, the 39 Fisharound jumped on plane in 5.5 seconds and reached 30 mph in 9 seconds.
Turning Yamaha Saltwater Series II 23-inch-pitch, three-blade stainless-steel propellers on the outside motors and a Yamaha XL 24-inch-pitch, four-blade stainless prop on the center engine, the 39 reached a top speed of 68.2 mph at 5,900 rpm, where the triple F350 Yamahas burned 98 gallons per hour for .69 mpg.
The most economical speed occurred at 44 mph (4,000 rpm) with the triple outboards burning 40 gallons per hour for 1.1 mpg. That equates to more than 500 miles of cruising range based on the 500-gallon fuel capacity.
Today, even the most ardent anglers appreciate creature comforts, especially when kids and spouses wish to step aboard. Contender’s new 39 Fisharound was designed for this 21st-century mindset, artfully blending a swift and capable offshore tournament machine with softer features that all family members can enjoy.
Contender 39 Fisharound Performance Specifications
POWER: Triple Yamaha F350 outboards
LOAD: 250 gal. fuel, full livewells, four crew
TOP SPEED: 68.2 mph @ 5,900 rpm
TIME TO 30 MPH: 9 sec.
BEST MPG: 1.1 @ 44 mph (4,000 rpm)
Contender 39 Fisharound Hull Specifications
LOA: 39 ft. 1 in.
BEAM: 10 ft. 10 inch
DEADRISE: 21 deg.
DRY WEIGHT: 8,100 lb. (w/o engine)
DRAFT: 1 ft. 10 in.
FUEL: 500 gal.
MAX POWER: 1,400 hp
Base MSRP: $449,187 (w/ triple Yamaha F350s)