Boat Reviews

Contender 44FA – Lightning Strike

The 44FA is Contender’s new flagship of the fleet, and it has more to offer than mere size.

If you’ve checked out center consoles in the Contender fleet like the 30ST or the 35ST, you’ve probably noticed how spectacular their cruise and top-end speeds are. But, what happens when Contender makes a big jump and builds a 44-foot center console yacht? Won’t the substantially larger boat go slower? Ummm, no. The 44FA is the newest and largest boat in the Contender fleet, and it still tromps right on past the mile-a-minute mark.

Contender 44FA
Do you want speeds in excess of 60 mph in a big, bodacious center console? Meet the Contender 44FA.

In fact, rigged with triple Yamaha F425 XTO Offshore outboards the 44FA can hit the low- to mid-60s and cruising speeds are right around 40 mph. But the boat’s maximum horsepower rating is 2,000. Do you want a fourth F425 on the transom? Not a problem. It’s not all about sheer horsepower, though. The 44FA runs on a 22.7-degree stepped hull with not one but two steps running down from the chines. It’s also narrower and lighter than many competing boats. Note that Grady-White’s Canyon 456, for example, has two full feet more beam and displaces 2,000 additional pounds. Net result? Don’t let this big beast’s size fool you – it’s every bit as fast and furious as other boats in the Contender line-up.

Contender 44FA
Triple Yamaha F425 XTO Offshore outboards are standard, on the 44FA.

Another way this model is no different from other Contenders: it’s a cold-blooded fish-killer. There are a pair of bathtub-sized 55-gallon livewells in the transom, 500 gallons of fish-stowing capacity split between the forward and aft fishboxes, a tackle station in the back of the second-row seating post with a slide-out Frigid-Rigid, under-gunwale rodracks, six rocket launchers on the hardtop, and eight more in the back of the aft seating post. Contender calls four gunwale rod holders standard, but we think you’d be nuts not to perforate the gunwales with additional holders from bow to stern.

Contender 44ST Specifications

  • LOA – 43’10”
  • Beam – 12’0”
  • Draft – 2’3”
  • Displacement – 22,500 lbs.
  • Transom deadrise –22.7-degrees
  • Fuel capacity – 575 gal.
  • Water capacity – 70 gal.

We do need to note that compared to the 44ST incarnation of this Contender, you’ll be trading off some fishability for comfort. The ST version has a minimal cabin (really just a head compartment) which opens up a lot more space in the bow cockpit. It also has single-row seating at the helm, which expands the fishing room in the aft cockpit. The gains of the FA model, however, are substantial. The cabin has a small galley with a sink and two-burner stove-top, a separate stand-up head compartment, and a V-berth that blends with a small settee as it runs aft. Having the extended console cabin also nets you a huge bow lounger on top. Then consider the fact that a full crew of six can enjoy seating on the helm-deck. Considering that a 44-footer isn’t exactly short on fishing room in the first place, it’s easy to see why many people will find these comfort-enhancing measures desirable.

Contender 44FA
Yes, the expanded console cabin does reduce deck space. But wouldn’t this be a welcome sight at 3:00 in the morning, after the swordfish bite has petered out?

Of course, the boat can have a whole lot more in the way of specific features be they for comfort or for fishing. Contenders are about as customizable as production boats get, and buying one means you’ll be choosing everything from the upholstery to the upper station – should you so desire. One thing that won’t change, however, is the boat’s construction. Contender hand-lays its hull, deck, and cap with bi- and tri-axial cloth; stringers are foam-filled fiberglass; coring is PVC foam, and resins are the more expensive but less water-permeable vinylester variety. When you run one of these boats you can feel the net effect underfoot: the hull meets the waves with a solid ker-chunk rather than a hollow drumming sound, and impacts and vibrations are minimized.

Contender 44FA
Note the pipework, a perpetual construction high-point on Contenders, always oversized and magnificently welded.

The bottom line? This is one big beast of a Contender, but it’s still a Contender through and through. But don’t take our word for it – firewall the throttles, and feel the rush for yourself.

For more information, visit Contender Boats.

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Lenny Rudow
Lenny Rudow …has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, and has authored seven books. He is currently the Angler in Chie...