If you are an angler whose plans include extended trips to offshore fishing grounds or the islands and are looking for your next ride, Contender might have just the right boat for you. The new 44CB (Canyon Berth) is designed to perform in demanding bluewater conditions, equipped with more than enough features to please the hardcore angler and all the comforts and conveniences for overnight stays at sea.
Built on the same high-performance stepped hull as the 44ST and 44FA, the latest 44-footer from Contender retains the level deck from bow to stern and adds a console cabin to a clean, well-thought-out layout, with ample workspace, fishing room, storage and seating.
The boat brings back the bow seating of the ST model, with its twin port and starboard seats and dry stowage inside, and swaps the broad forward-console sun pad of the FA with a smaller console lounger, allowing for 360-degree fishability without sacrificing much storage up front.
Speaking of forward storage, the 44CB includes a sizable dedicated anchor locker, 10-foot-long in-deck rod lockers to port and starboard, and a forward-deck center hatch that opens to a massive 340-gallon fish box.
Ergonomics were definitely top of mind when Contender designed the helm side of the center console, which features a 55-inch-wide dash where dual 24-inch multifunction displays can mount easily, with room to spare for two engine monitoring displays, two VHF radios, waterproof switches, a breaker panel with indicator lights, an audio system, joystick control and various other electronics essentials. Twin glove boxes to stash valuables, plus a pair of cup holders and charging ports on each side of the helm are well within arm’s length of the skipper and two crew sitting or leaning on the trio of adjustable captain’s chairs. Meanwhile, second-row seating, stadium-style on our test boat, comfortably accommodates three more crewmembers.
Though not quite as expansive as the 44FA’s, the 44CB’s step-down console cabin, with its fully gelcoated interior and 76 inches of headroom, incorporates a comfortable forward berth for two with 400 quarts of storage capacity underneath, as well as a countertop, stainless-steel sink with freshwater faucet, and slide-away toilet. Owners can also order optional air conditioning and vertical rod racks inside the cabin.
Rod storage is one of the many customizable things on every Contender, allowing each boat to precisely fit the fishing style and plans of its owner. Our test boat sported horizontal racks to cradle three rods on each gunwale, rocket launchers for eight rods on the aft-facing end of the hardtop and another six on the console’s starboard side, plus six flush-mount holders in back of the second-row seating and another four on the covering boards.
The aft cockpit is truly an angler’s dream. It boasts considerable elbow room and a wealth of necessities for successful offshore ventures. Highlights include dual 55-gallon livewells on the transom, a tackle-storage and prep center complete with a hatch that turns into a rigging counter, and a slide-out cooler at the base.
In addition, there’s a pair of 110-gallon fish boxes parallel to the port and starboard gunwales that -neatly bookend the spacious lazarette providing access to the bilge, where pumps and various systems reside.
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With the boat surveying complete, we took the Contender out in the Gulf of Mexico and put it through its paces. The first 44CB ever rigged with quad Yamaha F300s, our test boat proved both quick and agile, even with 800 horses below the model’s maximum power rating (2,000 hp).
Hole shot was swift and without hesitation, squatting or excessive bow rise, and the 44-footer raced from zero to 30 mph in an average time of 9.5 seconds. Acceleration was strong from midrange to full throttle, and the Contender reached a top speed of 66.3 mph while running wide open, a mark good enough for most but easily exceeded by opting for larger motors.
Turning radius, stability and overall handling were superb as we embarked on a variety of turns and sudden avoidance maneuvers at a range of speeds and angles.
There was absolutely no worrisome leaning or sliding on the turns to report. And spray, which initially began on par with the forward-console lounger at planing speed and moved back some two feet at 5,000 rpm, never made it over the gunwales, no matter our heading in relation to the wind.
With a Seakeeper gyrostabilizer leading the long list of available options, the Contender 44CB is one killer fishing machine with the means to get to a hot bite in a hurry while keeping the entire crew nice and comfy.
- Weather: Sunny, 87 degrees
- Location: Steinhatchee, Florida
- Wind: Southwest 9 mph Sea State: 2-foot swell Test Load: Two adults, 300 gallons of fuel, 50 gallons of water
Contender Boats – contenderboats.com