Contessa 32


What more can be said about this boat except that she is not, perhaps, quite as good as she is often made out to be? She caught the imagination of the times after winning the Boat of the Show award at Earl’s Court in 1972 and has captivated subsequent generations with a combination of above-average performance, practical accommodation and timelessly elegant good looks. Several other designs of the time were either faster, better below decks or equally
good-looking, but none combined the ingredients in such an appealing package. A strong class association for the 800 or more built, and competitive one-design racing has kept the mystique alive. Beneath the glamour the boat had, and has, her faults. Early models were criticised for weak shroud plates and under-sized rigging. Hull stiffening in way of the forward heads was inadequate and required modification. The accommodation is reasonably standard with 5 or 6 berths, amidships heads with hanging locker opposite, dinette arrangement in the saloon, effective galley and good chart table over the quarterberth. Under sail, she is excellent to windward in light and heavy weather, though careful sail trim is needed to balance out the helm. She reaches well and is stable downwind thanks to her longish keel and powerful rudder. Her reputation keeps prices high, and the long production run and multiple builders also help ensure a wide availability. Professionally restored boats can fetch more than £60,000.

LOA 9.75m (32ft), LWL 7.32m (24ft), beam 2.89m (9ft 6in), draught 1.68m (5ft 6in), displacement 4,318kg (9,520lb). Price guides: £24,000 to £38,000. YM Test Reports July 1972, August 1992, September 1996