At almost 13 metres long the 42CS is no baby, but she is the newest arrival to the Contest family. We sent Graham Snook to Holland to test her mettle on the IJsselmeer

Product Overview

Contest 42CS


Contest 42CS review



Contest 42CS review

See the February 2015 issue of Yachting Monthly for the full test

What’s she like to sail?

She was fitted with my favourite steering system, Jefa, but wasn’t as light on the helm as I would have expected. It was firm and responsive, and gave good feedback, but it just wasn’t finger light – possibly due to having the second wheel to turn. She is a very solid boat to sail, no creaks, squeaks, groans or moans. With no mainsheet track on this version, when she was overpowered (close-hauled with more than 20 knots apparent), the sheet had to be released from the self-tailing winch before being eased. This isn’t as simple or quick as flicking it down the track or out of a cascade block jammer. Nothing untoward happens if the sheet isn’t instantly released – the helm just gets heavier and she heels more.

The cockpit works well. The crew can sit aft, tend winches and keep conversation with the helmsman while using the mainsheet pedestal as a foot brace. Or they can move clear of the action and relax on the curved-corner coaming forward.

What’s she like in port and at anchor?

The anchor lead from bow roller to Maxwell electric windlass is short and direct; the chain is pre-marked at 10m intervals. The buttons are forward of the chain locker lid, so you can’t have the lid open to see the chain whilst standing on the buttons. You could, however, to stand in the locker (the watertight crash-space below means the sole is raised) and press the buttons by hand.

For long-term cruising I would like small inspection hatches in the long, cumbersome cabin sole boards, just enough for a quick daily peek into the bilge. Once the Mastervolt CANbus touch-screen control panel is out of direct sunlight (so you can see it), and you’ve mastered using it, living on board would be a real joy. The large windows might not make a deck saloon per se, but they add light and views where so many boats don’t.

It’s a sign of the times that many builders are removing or hiding chart tables. The option to have one is there, but if you don’t want to write off a couple of cubic metres of internal space to an area you only occasionally use on passage, you don’t have to.

Would she suit you and your crew?

The short-handed central winch version (standard) worked well, although for long-distance voyaging the cruising version would accommodate the all-important bimini. The Lounging cockpit’s enclosed after ends add more sprawling options to the already comfy cockpit. They also prevent the snoozing occupant’s feet straying into the wheel, which can’t be a nice way to wake up!

There’s no denying the 42CS is a lovely, well thought-out boat – with a price tag to match. She’s not the nimblest on the water, but she has the refined family traits of her larger siblings. All are built to go places in style and comfort; the 42CS is no different. It’s difficult to review a boat where so much is a movable feast. The current owner’s requirements didn’t entirely fit my own, as mine wouldn’t fit theirs. That’s boats for you. Many of my criticisms and comments could easily be addressed, should I suffer a lottery win. Contest has been building boats for 55 years and I doubt I’d be their fussiest customer. The yard understands that boat owners are individuals and, while not semi-custom in name, offers enough variants to be considered such. After all, with a total of 45 different combinations of interior layouts available, finding something to suit your style of sailing shouldn’t be a problem. Choosing one might be.

Facts and figures
Price €548,000 inc VAT in Feb 2015 (approx. £437,747)
LOA 12.85m (42ft 1in)
LWL 11.76 m (38ft 7in)
Beam 4.15m (13ft 7in)
Draught 2.2m (7ft 3in)
Displacement 11,000kg (24,251 lb)
Ballast 4,600kg (10,141 lb)
Sail area 104m2 (1,118sq ft)
Engine 54hp Yanmar
Diesel 250 lit (55gal)
Water 480 lit (105gal)
D/L ratio 188.2
SA/D ratio 21.4
Ballast ratio 41.8%
RCD category A
STIX 48.0
Designer Georg Nissen
Builder Contest Yachts (
UK agent Charles Watson Marine
Tel 01590 647422