By Steve Dougherty
For more than 35 years, Contender has built boats with a clear focus on performance through innovation, getting tournament anglers offshore faster than anybody else. However, gone are the days when their first 25-footer was the chalk horse. Today, the 44ST with four 425 hp outboards lining the transom delivers all of the advantages top teams need to stay ahead of the fleet.
Contender has historically maintained its deep-V hull designed to knife through choppy seas with speed and efficiency, but the massive 44ST with its 12-foot beam and sleek double-stepped hull ensures maximum lift with minimal resistance delivering impressive speed, fuel economy, seakeeping ability, soft ride and safety in a following sea. Like every other Contender to roll out of the Homestead, Florida, factory sporting signature recessed bow rails, Reel Synergy comprises hand-laid fiberglass throughout, including multi-directional fabric and a foam cored glass stringer system. Premium vinylesterresin and specially formulated gelcoat contribute to a high-gloss hull that looks as good as it performs.
Although every Contender is equipped with a host of standard features, the 44ST Reel Synergy is packed with optional equipment and is one of the most well-equipped center consoles on the water. The hull’s 22.7-degree aft deadrise contributes to increased comfort while at rest, but with the Seakeeper 6 engaged all pitch and roll is negated. This is a huge benefit to the captain hunting ‘tailers atop the custom PipeWelders gap tower with buggy top and full controls at the second station. Reel Synergy is also uniquely equipped with an ice maker, Nite Track night vision and Axis cameras mounted around the boat ensuring tournament-required release footage is never missed.
At the helm, triple Llebroc captain’s chairs with stainless steel pedestals and power sliders provide a comfortable command center with a clear view of the open deck layout through the curved Strataglass windshield. Dash space accommodates two 24-inch Garmin displays, HelmMaster joy-stick controls, Icom VHFs, FUSION stereo head unit, horizontal accessory panel with 22 breaker switches and much more. By way of the 31-inch wide walkways anglers can access the port side console door with step-down cabin trimmed in teak and providing a toilet, sink, shower and 6 feet, 4 inches of headroom.
The extra-large, sectioned coffin box forward of the helm is cavernous and provides cooler space and storage for tackle and gear, with an actuator lifting the entire box and revealing a 315-gallon storage compartment in the deck. Flanking the coffin box are mirroring port and starboard 10-foot rod lockers, and forward is a 340-gallon in-deck insulated fishbox. Three standard livewells aft provide 220-gallon capacity for culling different species of bait, and Reel Synergy added a 40-gallon livewell forward in addition to deck fills to plumb removable 100-gallon round wells when transporting bait before a tournament.
A custom Best Marine six-pump sea chest provides uncompromised redundancy and the ability to regulate each of the pumps so the velocity of water flow can be adjusted to suit the species of baitfish occupying each individual livewell. In addition to the uncompromised fishing features present on this one-of-a-kind Contender, the wide-open layout offers remarkable fishability with a massive cockpit accommodating rear-facing seating and a rocket launcher, though the option exists for a second row of forward-facing helm chairs.
Thoughtfully rigged with quad Yamaha 425s, the 44ST with its standard 600-gallon fuel tank leaves little to be desired reaching distant fisheries with speed, comfort and safety, setting the benchmark for high performance, tournament-equipped center consoles.
Displacement: 19,600 lbs.
Deadrise: 22.7 degrees
Water Capacity: 70 gal.
Fuel Capacity: 600 gal.
Engines: (4) Yamaha 425 XTO
Stabilizer: Seakeeper 6
Electronics: (2) Garmin GPSMAP 8624
Helm Chairs: Llebroc
Contender Boats Announces Second Manufacturing Facility in Fort Pierce, Florida
HOMESTEAD, FL – June 29, 2021 — Since its inception in 1984, Contender Boats has led the industry in building semi-custom sportfishing boats — for fisherman by fisherman. That mission has only grown stronger over the years.
Today, in a market trending toward brand consolidation, Joe Neber, president and owner of Contender Boats, solidified Contender’s legacy as a family-owned, Florida-based company by purchasing a second manufacturing facility in Fort Pierce. Read more…