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Contender 32 LS

The 32 LS carves up blue-water and has a plush, family-friendly layout.

March 9, 2012
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While running Contender’s 32 LS, my inclinometer showed that the boat was riding at an average of 3 degrees. I was using hardly any positive trim on the twin Yamaha 300 hp outboards to keep the boat at that positive angle and carry the bow.

This is important because, during the test, we had only two people on board with no additional gear. That means that, once the 32 LS is loaded with gear and crew, you can still use the outboards’ positive trim to get the bow out of the water and maintain the efficiency that comes with the boat’s twin-step bottom design.

Naval architect John Cosker of Mystic Powerboats fame designed the twin-step deep-V for the 32 LS. The first step is right under the center console with the second one not quite four feet aft. What’s interesting is the strake configuration. There are two on each side of the hull forward of the first step. Abaft the step is a single strake per side, but it’s placed in the middle of the keel to the chine panels. On the aftmost running surface, Cosker used no strakes. He said the steps provide enough lift — strakes aft would produce too much — and the lack of strakes feeds cleaner water to the propellers. To ensure that the boat retains good rough-water ride quality, the forward sections of the bottom are convex in shape from chine to keel. This helps reduce slamming.

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In terms of fuel efficiency, the stepped hull is a 10 percent improvement over the old nonstepped version, and it’s at least 3 mph faster. Paired with two big Yamaha V-6 engines, the 32 LS hit 61.3 mph, burning 52 gph of fuel at wide-open throttle. My test boat maneuvered smoothly through S-turns and came around cleanly in circles. Plenty of torque allows you to put this boat anywhere you want around the docks.

The 32 LS also boasts a solid feel under way, largely achieved by the hull-side balsa coring, putty-filled strakes plus transom, stringers and liner cored with Divinycell foam. The hardtop frame, formed of 3-inch-diameter powder-coated aluminum tubing, is just as robust. Except for the forward bow cleat, the amidships and stern cleats are positioned beneath the deck with the dock lines running through hawse pipes, usually found on much bigger boats, and providing a snag-free fishing environment and a clean look.

The LS series mission is to provide a more family-friendly model that still features the performance and construction that instill confidence when offshore. Comparable boats include Intrepid’s 327 (Boating, November/December 2011), which retails for $191,669 with the same power as our test boat. Another comparable boat is the Yellowfin 32. With the twin Yamaha 300s, the Yellowfin has a sticker of $178,880.

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The helm layout is clean, with all the gauges in clear sight lines and the Yamaha digital controls in comfortable reach. I liked the keyless ignition. There’s a single master key, but you use remote switches to start the engines. For a little wow factor, open the head door and watch the battery switches when someone turns the key. The battery switches power up. It looks good and deters theft. Good access to wiring is found from with the head, and I admired the nice job Contender did in routing the wires and labeling all the blade-style fuses. The batteries are also housed here for ease of access.

My test boat had the optional ($13,185) hull-side swim door that folds into the cockpit sole when it’s opened, a feature also offered by Intrepid in both manual and hydraulic versions. I discovered other day-boat features aboard this center console as well. Abaft the leaning post is an entertainment center with a sink and grill concealed beneath a Corian countertop, and there’s a drawer-style refrigerator too. There’s in-sole stowage throughout the boat that can be used for stashing tow toys and beach floats as easily as chilling the day’s big catch if you nab a big one.

Forward of the console is a bench seat with a cooler inside. In the bow are long chaise-style seats on which I stretched out with room to spare. A three-position table rises so you can have a sandwich, drops down halfway to convert the area into a big playpen with filler cushions, or lowers all the way into the sole. Combined with the 32 LS’s smooth, level ride, these amenities ensure as much comfort en route to your destination as you’ll enjoy once you arrive.

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Comparable models: Intrepid 327 Cuddy, Yellowfin 32

_**Click here to view the 32 LS’s accommodation plan.**_

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