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Any Contessa fan?

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I sailed many many miles on a Contessa 43. Beautiful boat. Well built and fast for it's design. Then, lo and behold, a Contessa 35 appeared in in my marina and she was for sale. I bought her and love nearly everything abut her. The only two gripes were the absence of a bilge sump, so you could never get all of the water out of the bilge and the lack of ventilation - very noticeable in the tropics.

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That is great, thank you! I love them all, but my dream is one day finding a 32 maybe a bit run-down, and restoring it to former glory, bit like Assent.

fastnet-1979-survivor-assent-side-view-s

Sometimes I wish they had continued to come up with own designs, a bit like Rustler. I think the Mystery 35 of Cornish' could have been one of theirs'.

image002.jpg

 

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Before my actual boat got my guts and demanded with insistance to be bought, using boat vodoo and boat voices in my head or whatever sorcery boats that should not be bought use to be bought, I was actively looking for a Contessa 35. But they're not that easy to find.

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@Matagi have you heard of Pierre-André Huglo? He finished his non stop circumnavigation passing by the three capes in 2019, onboard a 32. He has nothing but praises for the boat. He suffered no major failures and got to trust his boat completely.

He made a nice, soothing edit of the images he gathered. Very simple, no voice. I think it's lovely.

La Route du Hareng - YouTube

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6 hours ago, Matagi said:

That is great, thank you! I love them all, but my dream is one day finding a 32 maybe a bit run-down, and restoring it to former glory, bit like Assent.

fastnet-1979-survivor-assent-side-view-s

I just remembered this.  20 or so years ago, in the late ‘90s, I was put in touch with some guy named Willy Ker, by Jeremy Rogers, I think. Can’t recall.  I was a total novice to ocean cruising boats, and had read about Contessas.  This was sort of early days of the Internet.  And I had also read about the Fastnet Race disaster, and somehow through the Internet I contacted Jeremy Rogers (again, I’m pretty sure that who it was - I assume he was alive then).  Anyway, it was someone “in the know” who put me touch with Willy Ker to ask about Contessas.  He knows a lot about their reputation and quality, I was told.  Again, I was a total novice and whoever gave me Willy Ker’s contact info was just trying to help me learn more about the boats. I was on the US East Coast then, and I can’t recall if I phoned him up - I think I probably did (seems unlikely that a man of that age would’ve been on email at that time/era - this is based on just reading now that he passed away in 2019 at age 94, which I hadn’t known).

Anyway, I was considering buying one somewhere, I don’t recall where now.  I wanted a boat under 35’ with a good reputation as an ocean boat.  I never actually saw the C32 that was for sale.  I wish I had bought one, in some ways, but am also glad I didn’t.  I finally got a chance to see one, and go inside, about ten or so years later, in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  At the time I remember thinking, “this boat is way too small for a couple to live aboard and cruise long distance on.”  However it would be great for singlehanding long distance, or shorter term local cruising as a couple.  Obviously boats with great sea keeping abilities.

And, in the meantime, before I actually went aboard that boat ten or more years later, I read about Willy Ker’s incredible exploits on Assent - and here I was an absolute sailing novice back then calling him up in England to ask him what he thought about Contessas!!  Hilarious when I think about it now.

The late great Willy Ker and Assent, for those who don’t know “the legend”:

https://www.yachtingworld.com/fastnet-race/fastnet-race-1979-restored-survivor-assent-123180

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10 hours ago, Matagi said:

That is great, thank you! I love them all, but my dream is one day finding a 32 maybe a bit run-down, and restoring it to former glory, bit like Assent.

fastnet-1979-survivor-assent-side-view-s

Sometimes I wish they had continued to come up with own designs, a bit like Rustler. I think the Mystery 35 of Cornish' could have been one of theirs'.

image002.jpg

 

Lovely boats, all bearing the visual DNA of Rogers' first build, the Folkboat. Your first photo shows why the 32 has been called "a submarine with sails." Not a lot of excess freeboard there.

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9 hours ago, Diarmuid said:

 the 32 has been called "a submarine with sails." Not a lot of excess freeboard there.

I wonder if that description comes from John Kretschmer’s classic book about his NY-San Fran rounding in a C32?  I recall him describing the boat as an absurd vessel for such a hard voyage to windward.  Tough, capable, weatherly - but slightly absurd, being so small  :-)

F1D23CC0-CF5B-441D-87B4-F569D1249D60.jpeg

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2 hours ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

I wonder if that description comes from John Kretschmer’s classic book about his NY-San Fran rounding in a C32?  I recall him describing the boat as an absurd vessel for such a hard voyage to windward.  Tough, capable, weatherly - but slightly absurd, being so small  :-)

F1D23CC0-CF5B-441D-87B4-F569D1249D60.jpeg

IIRC, it was JK's partner in that mad adventure who coined the description. The Contessa 32 will get you there, but you won't be dry when you arrive. ;)

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The interior of a 32 is roomy for hobbits.

I used to own a 33, a very different boat. SWMBO and I did an Atlantic circuit in ours.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTtVY_4Cvy5912q_UpJWwd

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e5b1c850e1bc16da85a793c9a91196e4.jpg

The 38 would keep the 32's look while reducing that freeboard problem...

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13 minutes ago, Matagi said:

e5b1c850e1bc16da85a793c9a91196e4.jpg

The 38 would keep the 32's look while reducing that freeboard problem...

Oh, that's lovely. I don't like the in-mast furler though.

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The old Contessa looks nice, but she's dog slow and there's no room below. Pom's right, the 33 was streaks ahead in all respects.

Used to sail well to their rating as well.

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Tania Aebi. 

Reading that book caught me so much more than any Youtube video ever could. That had a very lasting impact on me. 

Just found this Podcast with her from three days ago:

 

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2 hours ago, Matagi said:

 

The 38 would keep the 32's look while reducing that freeboard problem...

Don't mean the freeboard comment as criticism, BTW. Our own Folkboat-styled Albin Ballad rides a bit low as well:

albin-yachts-albin-ballad-30-69259020161569545051696567574569x.jpg.a0d8ca8612340684b5ac05cbd0001111.jpg

 

Sailing-boatAlbin-Ballad-MK-3-scanboat-picture-11259977.thumb.jpg.8030fdab9f12991a0aeda6caf2c3060a.jpg

Goes to weather like a sumbitch. Also like the Contessa and many other older North Sea/Baltic boats: tight below, dark, poorly ventilated, awkward head. Good sailers in the raunchy, tho.

There's a mythos attaches to Contessas and drives their demand and pricing. But it's not unearned.

 

 

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On 12/2/2020 at 6:51 PM, Matagi said:

Sometimes I wish they had continued to come up with own designs, a bit like Rustler. I think the Mystery 35 of Cornish' could have been one of theirs'.

I think that's a misunderstanding of the Jeremy Rogers approach.  Rogers was always on the forward edge of design: the 26. 32, 35, 43, OOD 34, 33 were all created as competitive racing boats.  Some of them proved durable and versatile, so they remained in production even when they were no longer at the front of the racing fleets, and the first two (26 & 32) became classics.

But Rogers only ever produced one retro boat: the 1981 Contessa 38, which was basically a Contessa 32 with the photocopier's enlargement function set to 19%.   It was a slow seller.

After bankruptcy in 1984, he built no new boats until the mid1990s, when he bought back to Co32 moulds, and now builds a few museum pieces.

By contrast, Rustler has only ever produced retro boats.  The Rustler 36 was designed in 1980, a long-keeler launched well after that fashion ended.  Since then they have launched more heavy cruising boats, all a very different proposition to Contessas. 

And as to the Mystery 35 ... Rogers would never have built something so ugly.  That boat's profile is so wrong that it hurts.

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49 minutes ago, Diarmuid said:

like the Contessa and many other older North Sea/Baltic boats: tight below, dark, poorly ventilated, awkward head. Good sailers in the raunchy, tho.

There's a mythos attaches to Contessas and drives their demand and pricing. But it's not unearned.

The problem with the mythos is that like most myths, too many people misunderstand its significance. 

The Contessa 32 is a pretty boat from half-a-century ago.  It has a fan club based on its prettiness, and on its survival of some heavy storms. 

But for most sailors most of the time, it's just an old crap boat.  Wet, slow, tiny inside, cramped cockpit, hideous sliver-main rig, not great handling downwind.  For most sailors in most conditions, a more modern design is superior in nearly every respect.

Consider a Hallberg-Rassy 310 vs Contessa 32.  Apart from the museum looks, is there really any reason to choose the Contessa?

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18 minutes ago, Priscilla said:
3 hours ago, TwoLegged said:

Consider a Hallberg-Rassy 310 vs Contessa 32.  Apart from the museum looks, is there really any reason to choose the Contessa?

150,000 reasons.

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats-for-sale/make-hallberg-rassy/model-310/

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1979/contessa-32-3732764/

You can buy a new HR 310 for less than a new Co 32.

OTOH, if you want a 40-year-old boat, there are many options.  But comparing the 40yo boat with a new one is a bit silly.

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1 minute ago, TwoLegged said:

You can buy a new HR 310 for less than a new Co 32.

OTOH, if you want a 40-year-old boat, there are many options.  But comparing the 40yo boat with a new one is a bit silly.

Don't know that Contessa looks like a minter so horses for courses each to his own etc etc I will put the 150,000 reasons in the bank and sail on.

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23 minutes ago, Jud - s/v Sputnik said:

Actually, it’s 175,000 reasons.

Crikey that's 247,000 reasons here in the home of the Cup.

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I can't decide what's more nonsense, both prices are moonshots in my view.

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I'm laughing at those that say the Contessa 32 is "cramped" down below.  I would need a roadmap to find my way around a Contessa 32's interior -- to me, it's YUGE!

Now, my Contessa 26, that's what you call a "cramped" interior.

Now, forgive me, but no self "Yootooboob" promotion here, I promise you.   My channel is pretty shit, and I have no patreon.  But this is a Contessa thread, so here be my contribution.
I am thinking of putting a bit of a pod or doghouse in place of the blister, much like the Canadian 'Wave Rover' chap, which will phuck her looks, but make her oh so more easy to sail when I have all round 360 vision below on my solo sails.

For what it is worth I generally agree with Two Legged - there are better faster boats - for certain situations.  
And if I had my time again, maybe I could have saved a bit longer a purchased something bigger and faster.
But for a "would be" solo sailor with phuck all money, and a bit of a idea test what inner belief and fortitude I have as a man and a sailor, the Contessa 26 will surely test that of me .

I say "would be" because the longest cruise I have done is a 5 week solo coastal sailing trip.  It doesn't prove I can handle anything or that my boat is anything special.  I have done nothing sailing wise when it comes down to it comparatively to some of you good people on this forum, and I think it important you not talk BS about your sailing ability or experience.

Anyway,  as much as my boat is a tiny wee thing with an interior better suited to stunted hobbits....I just need to think of Webb Chiles on his Moore 24 - barely sitting headroom with probably half the space below of my 26.  So, I'm sailing a veritable palace compared to his Moore.  When I thought of putting my boat up for sale, I only had to think of Webb and his tiny machine and that scolded the 'inner pussy' out of me.  That and I was too broke to buy a bigger boat anyway!  

Actually talking of Webb, other than the Moore and his open boat, he has always had IOR boats, which he says are neither good nor bad but , I think I am right where he said "they were all I could afford".

Back to the Contessa 32, some people don't care for reputations - here be a different view of the Contessa 32 by Eric of Nordkyn Design:
"I once met an English sailor who had sailed a Contessa 32 from South Africa to Western Australia in the late 1990s. She got into high winds and heavy following seas about half way and described to me that the boat was out of control with the foredeck completely underwater and the rudder unresponsive. What followed before long was rather violent because a wave lifted the stern even higher and the boat pitchpoled. Not only the rig was wiped out, but the hull suffered significant structural damage, including a fractured bulkhead. She eventually reached Perth under jury rig.
Many Contessa 32s have sailed around in the Tropics, but true bad weather just doesn’t exist there. As far as I am concerned, it is a bad and a dangerous boat. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing of course, but – assuming that a Contessa 32 can point acceptably in high winds and heavy seas, a very open question – had she turned it around and sailed upwind, she might have come out better off because designs like this one just won’t run in heavy seas."

Link: http://nordkyndesign.com/heavy-weather-dynamics-yachts-in-following-seas/

Eric is not a nobody like I am.  He sailed his Dufour Arperge (30 footer, fin keel) to I think both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and has designed and built a pretty cool looking new boat for himself
http://nordkyndesign.com/nordkyn/

Now, a lot of people will still say "who is this guy to pour scorn on the legendary Contessa 32". 
And they would have a fair point too, because not only has a Contessa 32 doubled the horn (Kretschmer), I think I am correct in saying a Frenchman recently sailed one not stop westabout in the French version of the Golden GLobe retro race.
But you can't just dismiss either the trouble the English sailor lass had in her Contessa 32 when running before that storm that Eric describes.

In the end, no boat is fallible is it.  Davy Jones locker can claim even the most experienced sailors and their boats.  Shit happens, but we keep sailing.  And I think the uncertainty of time and chance in a small boat is frankly a bit of the stimulus of the "why" of solo ocean sailing, be it me in my Contessa 26 one day, or the Alex Thomson type in his Vendee Globe speed machine which just broke it's rudder somewhere "out there".
If it were too easy why would you bother?   

Good thread, and good arguments all round.  Like everything, different strokes for different folks, and how boring the sailing world would be if we all agreed :)

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, TwoLegged said:

The problem with the mythos is that like most myths, too many people misunderstand its significance. 

The Contessa 32 is a pretty boat from half-a-century ago.  It has a fan club based on its prettiness, and on its survival of some heavy storms. 

But for most sailors most of the time, it's just an old crap boat.  Wet, slow, tiny inside, cramped cockpit, hideous sliver-main rig, not great handling downwind.  For most sailors in most conditions, a more modern design is superior in nearly every respect.

Consider a Hallberg-Rassy 310 vs Contessa 32.  Apart from the museum looks, is there really any reason to choose the Contessa?

It is a relatively slow boat but slow in a good way in the sense that it will eventually get there even if there is upwind against 40 knots of wind. So I think it is a good boat if you are one of those sea hermit who like plodding along at 5 knots...
 5 knots is not that bad either, lot of modern caravans would struggle to keep up!

To today standards it is a small boat though, he decided to remove the engine before his voyage because he didn't have the load carrying capacity for the food! You probably get the comfort of a modern 25 footer, so not great as a "family boat".

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43 minutes ago, JRC026 said:

I'm laughing at those that say the Contessa 32 is "cramped" down below.  I would need a roadmap to find my way around a Contessa 32's interior -- to me, it's YUGE!

A Contessa 26's interior is YUGE compared to a 21ft Corribee, and palatial compared to a Pocketship.

But both the Co26 and Co32 are cramped compared to more modern designs of the same length.

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2 minutes ago, TwoLegged said:

A Contessa 26's interior is YUGE compared to a 21ft Corribee, and palatial compared to a Pocketship.

But both the Co26 and Co32 are cramped compared to more modern designs of the same length.

Yep, as I indicated in my post, I tend to agree with you.
cheers :-)

Edited by JRC026
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15 hours ago, TwoLegged said:

Consider a Hallberg-Rassy 310 vs Contessa 32.  Apart from the museum looks, is there really any reason to choose the Contessa?

Skeg, proper chart table instead of 'I can put an iPad here', keel that you can slam into something.

Other than that: No.

However, the more fitting adversary would be the older '31 Mk II, in my view and sure, the CO32 would only survive on its myth in a 1:1 comparison, and even that only close.

HR31MkIIstart1.jpg

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On the hard in front of me is a nice 26 that has had a couple years of sitting on the hard. This year from Covid and last year before because a bird made a nest in the mast base and Jasmine couldn’t destroy their home for her sailing season-good lady!

It’s definitely different looking from than the American boats here, but they are going to sell it now and it will be a great deal for someone who dreams of sailing on blue water.

8FF1DF68-CCAD-4206-9D68-7E5D6D90F864.jpeg

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On the other side of the spectrum: Meow.

029020-copy.jpg

Currently for sale. Owner says the equivalent of 150,000 GBP was put into her to make her race ready.

Main target for boats like Meow, Jiminy Cricket and Alacrity is the RTIR, which sometimes favours the boats with the worst rating.

Looks cool, though. I took some notes for my Waarschip ;)

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On 12/4/2020 at 8:20 AM, Sail4beer said:

On the hard in front of me is a nice 26 that has had a couple years of sitting on the hard. This year from Covid and last year before because a bird made a nest in the mast base and Jasmine couldn’t destroy their home for her sailing season-good lady!

It’s definitely different looking from than the American boats here, but they are going to sell it now and it will be a great deal for someone who dreams of sailing on blue water.

8FF1DF68-CCAD-4206-9D68-7E5D6D90F864.jpeg

Part of the Contessa mythos is how Rogers 'designed' the C26: he started with a Folkboat hull from his molds (which, IIRC, he splashed off a carvel-planked FB he built in his garage when a kid); sawed of the transom; used a car jack to lever the gunwhales about 8" wider; then glassed on a new transom and redesigned deck & house. Also, sawed the keel bottom off flat so it would  dry out level instead of rocking forward.

So it's a pufferfish FB for tidal bays. :)

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That Norwegian dude on YouTube has a   Contessa 35. Looks great. 
 

 

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