Contender 35 ST: 2024 Boat Buyers Guide

The 35 ST has a long and wide list of available custom fishing options.
Contender 35 ST running smoothly offshore
The dual-stepped hull boosts speed, fuel efficiency and handling. Courtesy Contender

To avid freediver and spearfisherman Joe Neber, boatbuilding seemed like a natural career path growing up in Miami. Entering that industry, he soon came to found his own company, Contender Boats, in 1984. Admittedly competitive by nature, he has constantly pushed the envelope in boat performance, quality, fishability and innovation.

Contender, based in Homestead, Florida, is a recognized leader in building semicustom sport-fishing boats, carefully engineered, meticulously handcrafted and unmistakably aimed toward fishing, even when seas get rough.

Today, Contender ­offers models from 24 to 44 feet, each ready for custom details, from engine power to electronics to upholstery, including teak packages, power-actuated hatches and coolers, livewells and rigging, and several forward and rear seating options.

Neber is also a supporter of the fishing community and a committed conservationist, as evidenced by his company’s 11th-annual donation of a boat (this year, the 2024 ­Contender 28T center-­console) to benefit the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, which undertakes projects such as habitat restorations, artificial reefs, shoreline stabilizations, and restocking of clams, oysters, redfish and sea trout.

Contender 35 ST livewell
There are a pair of 40-gallon clear-topped livewells. Courtesy Contender

Contender 35 ST

Contender proudly calls its 35 ST center-console fast, efficient, powerful and fishy. 

Its patented dual-stepped hull boosts speed, fuel efficiency and handling. A single-level deck, massive fish and storage boxes, and a sea-taming ride make this a fisherman’s dream. Triple (or quad) engines and a 400-­gallon fuel capacity make it a dream with far-­ranging options. It speeds at 70-plus mph.

The 35 ST has Contender’s hand-laid fiberglass construction with multidirectional fabric and a foam-cored glass stringer; foam flotation, an integral dive platform, a full transom and swing-in transom door; and a self-bailing cockpit and a nonskid cockpit sole and deck. Movement is easy on both sides of the two-abreast console, which is lined with vertical rod holders. 

A semicustom boat, the 35 ST has a long and wide list of available custom fishing options, including towers built to spot fish or birds from miles away. Complete second-­station setups give the captain the true bird’s-eye view of air and ocean and their inhabitants. 

A leaning station features a novel removable rigging table. The station is topped by a half-dozen rod holders, and the transom by a pair of 40-gallon clear-topped livewells. Another 80-gallon livewell can be installed in-deck aft of the leaning post as an option; each livewell is served by its own pump installed within a sea chest. Forward of the console, a lounge is lifted electrically to access a large central storage compartment flanked by two other in-deck compartments, besides the coffin box itself. Additional in-deck storage and fish boxes are available.

Editor’s Tip 

Fuel capacity is often ­overlooked, but it’s as important as the boat’s motors. It doesn’t make sense to have a fast, capable vessel and limit its range with a tiny tank. If you plan on unleashing 1,200 ponies, make sure you can fit at least 300 gallons below deck. -Joe Albanese, Executive Editor Salt Water Sportsman

Performance Data

  • Test Power: Triple Yamaha F300s
  • Test Load: 1,200 lb.
  • Test Speed: 68 mph at 6,000 rpm
  • Max Range: 576 mi. at 32.7 mph, 3,000 rpm


Fuel Capacity:400 gal.
Dry Weight With Power:13,500 lb.
Max HP:1,200
Powered By:Yamaha

Contender Boats – Homestead, Florida;