Sailing performance and seaworthiness:

  • ‘Pretty Tough: the Contessa 32 at 50’
    Yachting World
  • ‘A British-built yacht with incomparable looks that sails like a dream and has an extraordinary provenance.
    ‘Steffan Meyric Hughes, Sailing Today, March 2017
  • ‘The Contessa 32 is one of the most enduring classics in the history of boatbuilding.’ ‘An excellent design and a versatile yacht for the keen sailor – it will take you anywhere and can be trusted to look after the crew.’
    Contessa 32 Used Boat Test by Alison Molyneaux, Sailing Today, Aug 2000.
  • ‘But, there is something more about the Contessa 32. It is not just a 32 footer with a great reputation. It seems that her hull shape, displacement and lines are just right and this combination is what makes her so special.’
    Sailing Samourai
  • ‘Contessa 32 – A classic, incredibly well proven boat that is close to my heart. I sailed Gigi across the Atlantic and around Cape Horn. Noted for extreme seaworthiness and the sweetest motion afloat.’
    John Kretschmer (2014), Sailboats For A Serious Ocean – Notes and Thoughts on “The List”
  • ‘The Contessa 32 was an instant hit on her debut in 1971 and is still a benchmark for seaworthiness.’  ‘The …32 quickly built a reputation as a fast, tough racer and passagemaker.’  ‘In the 1979 Fastnet Race, Assent was the only finisher out of the 58 boats in her class, plugging into seas under triple-reefed main and storm jib.  The design was later singled out for praise by the Fastnet Race Inquiry Report for its seaworthiness and stability – able to right itself from an angle of 165 degrees past vertical, the Contessa is a superb heavy weather boat.’  ‘…this classic, the boat which is widely considered to be the best all-round cruiser of her size ever built.’
    Excerpts from Yachting Monthly review by Peter Nielsen, ‘The best cruiser ever?’, July 2000.
  • ‘Elegant, unmistakable and unquestionably seaworthy, the Contessa 32 appears to be one of those few designs that never dates.’
    Yachting World boat test by Matthew Sheahan, ‘Contessa 32’, May 1996.
  • Ranked in the ‘Top 25 Boats’ by Classic Boat magazine in it’s 25th anniversary issue, January 2012, Vol 283. ‘The Contessa 32 meets two key classic criteria: it endears and endures.’
  • ‘Simply put, the reason to buy a Contessa 32 is because it sails beautifully.’
    John Kretschmer, ‘Contessa 32’, Sailing Magazine (November 2008)
  • ‘Beautifully balanced, and always a pleasure to sail.’  ‘She’s made to sail and she does so beautifully, cutting through the waves in a way that makes you want to let her keep going.’  ‘She’s a true sailing boat and built for mile after mile of satisfying cruising, and solidly built – she will look after you in pretty much anything.’
    Yachting Monthly, June 2014, ‘Sailing a Contessa 32 from Sunderland’, Theo Stoker.
  • ‘The Contessa 32 is a classic cruiser-racer, whose combination of speed and seaworthiness was proved in the ill-fated 1979 Fastnet Race. The very few recently built boats from the 1990s and 2000s can command very high prices…’

Comparison with modern production yachts:

  • ‘Modern beamy cruisers would be pirouetting into wind at half this angle (35 degrees to the apparent wind) but she slipped along without so much as a twitch of rounding up.’  ‘…she slipped along gloriously with 5-10 degrees of weather helm.’  ‘….she was a joy.’  ‘…barrelling along at over 7 knots with the scuppers scooping the Solent was unforgettable.  Her reputation as an invincible sea-boat seemed entirely justified to me.’  ‘….when heeled, her waterline length increases significantly.  That, and her much more powerful sail area-to-displacement ratio than the Bavaria’s, means she’s more seakindly and, theoretically at least, quicker.’  ‘A ballast ratio of 48 per cent gives her an astonishing 155 degree AVS (angle of vanishing stability),’   ‘She’s a powerful yacht but intuitive to sail.  She feels surefooted, responds well and tolerates poor trim.  ‘her reputation as a great sailing yacht is well deserved.’   ‘Contessas are built like rocks, ready for anything.’
    Excerpts from Yachting Monthly review by Chris Beeson, ‘Contessa 32 vs Bavaria 32’, February 2010.
  • ‘The Contessa 32 imparts confidence to everyone on board.’ …she’s always safe and she doesn’t bounce around like so many modern, lighter boats.’  ‘She has a gentle motion at sea.’  She always feels safe, she always looks after me and she sails beautifully.’
    Practical Boat Owner, ‘10 Best 32 Footers’, February 2010.
  • ‘We investigate the causes of keel failures and find some worrying reports of near-misses’. Matthew Sheahan, Yachting World, January 2015. Because the Contessa 32 has a faired in encapsulated lead keel the concerns expressed in this article do not apply.
  • ‘Modern yacht design has moved towards bonded construction with a matrix bonded to the hull and a keel attached, rather than the old design of a keel integral to the hull.’   ‘….design change over time has weakened integral structure.’  ‘Tragedy prompts keel warning’, Sailing Today, April 2015.
  • ‘Practical Sailor Takes a Look at Trends in Modern Boat Design. Is the quest for speed and interior comfort trumping smart design in today’s sailboats?’
    Practical Sailor, February 2009.
  • ‘The stability curve of the Contessa 32 was for some years used as a comparison in yachting magazine tests of newer designs – very, very few yachts ever match her range of positive stability….’