For over 30 years, wherever there’s been an offshore fishing tournament, you can bet Contender boats were on the scene. From the pro kingfish tours to the sailfish circuit, many of the top teams and captains wouldn’t dream of fishing aboard anything else.
I’ve tested several models over the years, and most recently I got aboard the 39 FA, Contender’s latest and largest Fisharound, to put the sleek, tricked-out 39-footer through its paces on a blustery day in Key Largo, Florida. Like a center console, the Fisharound offers 360-degree fishability, which is what Contender is all about. However, it also offers a modest cabin forward of the integral console, complete with the necessary comforts for anglers who want the flexibility of doing overnight trips and weekend getaways: a fully enclosed head and freshwater shower; a galley with a two-burner cooktop with three storage drawers underneath, an overhead microwave, sink, and two undercounter Isotherm drawers to keep perishables chilled or frozen; and a queen berth set up with electric rams that lift it to access the large storage underneath.
There’s also perimeter lighting above the bunk, an easily accessible overhead hatch, and a flat-screen TV at the foot of the berth, on the galley wall. A Kohler 5 kW gas generator runs the air conditioning, as well as the refrigeration and cooking appliances.
The 39 FA is wired individually, like every Contender, with each wire neatly laid out, combed, tied and easy to trace. The team in charge of electrical even takes time to properly comb and lay out the Yamaha motors’ harnesses so they’re tame and match Contender’s.
Back on deck, the console, which sits to starboard of the cabin access, is ergonomically molded for a center-mounted helm. The dash accommodates two large multifunction displays, Yamaha gauges, engine start/stop station selector, a full switch panel, VHF radios, engine controls, trim-tab switches, plus the binnacle and three stainless drink holders. Our test boat had an optional tower with polycarbonate curtains to enclose the console. There’s a pullout storage bin under the forward seating, and behind the console is a leaning post with three Llebroc helm chairs — on electric slides — with fold-up arms and custom upholstery. The aft side of the leaning post features a full-length storage bin with a lift-up lid that doubles as a rigging station. The lid is carved out to make a well, and there are two tackle drawers under the storage bin, as well as a Frigid-Rigid cooler that slides out with the touch of a button.
The test boat was equipped with the optional tower and a second, full helm station with electronics and all the controls necessary to run the boat. Access to the tower is via ladders on both sides of the leaning post. The boat had top-of-the-line Rupp Top Gun radial outriggers and integral antenna-mount stand-offs. Trailering is not an issue, as the tower fully breaks down and folds away above the hardtop.
The test boat also sported an electric windlass inside the anchor locker and a recessed stainless anchor in the bow, a great setup for anyone anchoring to catch bait or spending the night on the hook. There is a single pop-up cleat on the bow, plus recessed handrails and coaming pads in the forward cockpit. Forward of the cabin, a huge in-floor bin with access hatch serves as either storage or a drop-in livewell, or hosts an electric ram for a lift-up table. The top of the cabin has a sculpted cushion for lounging, as well as a convenient flat section for sitting while drift- or kite-fishing.
The cockpit is clean and features two in-deck insulated fish boxes on the outboard sides and a lazarette to access bilge and livewell pumps. There are two 50-gallon livewells on the transom, a transom door and full coaming-pad cushions, and our test boat had removable L-shaped seating in the cockpit.
Based on the same high-performance stepped-hull design of the heralded Contender 39 ST, the new 39 FA handles well, carves turns at speed, and proves stable while both running or drifting. With her 24.5-degree deadrise, she handled the choppy conditions well and kept us dry. Powered by triple Yamaha F350s, it was no trouble to reach 70 mph with three people on board, plus 275 gallons of fuel and 60 gallons of water, while running into a 15- to 18-knot breeze. Her sweet spot was 4,200 rpm, where the Fisharound made an impressive 46.5 mph while burning 49.9 gph.
So, what’s my overall view of the 39 Fisharound? I find the fiberglass work, the hardware, and the fit and finish are all top-notch. And there’s no question that this is a well-rounded boat, offering a good ride, solid performance, and the excellent fishability we’ve come to expect from Contender.