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Contender goes express

Contender has altered its focus to create a 38-foot express sportfisherman.

Contender is known for its tournament sportfishing boats, including open center consoles from 21 feet to 36 feet that are revered for their performance characteristics and light, strong construction. The South Florida builder also offers a selection of walkarounds and center consoles with forward cuddies. However, Contender has altered its focus to create a 38-foot express sportfisherman.


“The introduction of the Contender 38 Express adds a totally new dimension to our product line,” says Marty Bistrong, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The 38 Express is capable of long-range getaways to exotic fishing destinations and has liveaboard accommodations for moderate periods of time.”

The boat measures 39 feet, 11 inches overall with a beam of 11 feet, 8 inches — enough room to accommodate two staterooms, a large bridge deck and a fish-ready cockpit. The full forward berth converts to a dinette, while outboard power on the transom allows for a midcabin with twin berths beneath the bridge deck. Between the two sleeping areas are a galley to port and an enclosed head compartment with shower to starboard. The galley comes equipped with granite countertops, a sink, two-burner stove, microwave and a refrigerator. The cabin area also contains a pair of flat-screen televisions.

The bridge deck has a good-size seating area forward of the helm station. There’s a U-shaped settee with a high-lo table to starboard, which converts to a berth, and a second settee on the port side. The helm station is on the starboard side at the aft end of the bridge deck. Features include a fiberglass leaning post system, tilt helm, locking electronics storage, and waterproof switches and circuit breakers with indicator lights. Other features on the bridge deck include an electric grill, a sink area and tackle storage drawers on the starboard side, and a bait prep center with a chiller box, custom freezer and more tackle storage drawers on the port side.

The cockpit is self-bailing and has an actuated lifting sole that reveals dry storage beneath. There’s also a pair of 110-gallon, fully lined and insulated in-deck fishboxes to port and starboard, lazarette bilge access, a refrigerated drink box, and twin 45-gallon transom live wells above deck level. The cockpit sole and decks have non-skid surfaces, and the boat has a full transom with a transom door and an integral swim platform. A variety of hardtop, soft top and tower options are available; air conditioning and a generator are standard.

While the 38 Express is a departure in many ways for Contender, the boat’s lines, cockpit fishing features and performance speak to its heritage. It rides a deep-vee hull with 22 degrees of deadrise at the transom and reaches a top speed of 60 mph with triple 350-hp Yamaha 4-strokes. Still, it’s a different animal than the boats that came before it.

Bistrong puts it plainly: “The 38 Express brings new customers to the Contender line that would be buying another brand of boat.”


LOA: 39 feet, 11 inches

BEAM: 11 feet, 8 inches

DRAFT: 2 feet

DISPLACEMENT: 12,700 pounds

HULL TYPE: deep-vee


TANKAGE: 480 gallons fuel, 100 gallons water, 11 gallons waste

POWER: twin or triple outboards to 1,100 hp

SPEED: 52 mph top (with twin Yamaha F350s)

PRICE: $442,000 (according to Ocean Performance, Old Saybrook, Conn.) CONTACT: Contender, Homestead, Fla.

Phone: (800) 645-2906.