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CONTENDER 44ST

The new 44ST reminds me of their popular 39ST, but like a supersized version on steroids. This is one mega-sized canyon-running sportfisher. But unlike many of her mid-40s ilk, the Contender 44ST doesn’t stray too far from her roots.
By Capt. John N. Raguso
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CONTENDER 44ST

Sure, you can accessorize her to the max with as much extraneous gear that you can cram onboard, but her single level cockpit sole from bow to stern tells you that her primary mission is bluewater sport fishing.

She features over 100-square feet (just short of nine-feet long by 12-feet wide) of wide open dancing room aft of the triple-wide helm deck. She sports an even larger area forward of the center console that extends almost 16-feet to the bow’s forepeak. With these totally ridiculous and impressive fishing dimensions, you could probably load a dozen anglers onboard for your deep water bottom fishing trips and never have a tangle! Trolling the edge and having four rods go off with a hot bigeye bite in a crowded cockpit is now a problem of the past.

Standard features on the 44ST include a spacious forward anchor locker with plenty of storage for your hook and rode; a 70-gallon freshwater capacity; a 340-gallon forward fish box; a 315-gallon forward storage box under the sole; twin 10-foot rod lockers under the forward cockpit; a pair of 110-gallon insulated fish boxes set under the aft cockpit sole; two mirror-image 55-gallon recirculating livewells in the transom bulkhead; a quartet of flush mount gunwale rodholders; a custom recessed aluminum bow handrail; and more. Unlike many mass-production boat builders, you choose whether to customize each component of the vessel; from the accessories, power options and rodholders, to the electronics package, livewell rigging and down to the type of stitching on your upholstery.

The helm of the 44ST looks like it came out of a Star Wars sequel, with room to mount twin 24-inch multi-function displays that will give you an unfair advantage when running and gunning while looking for bait balls and schools of feeding pelagics, navigating and working the radar to find flocks of feeding birds many miles downrange. The 44ST’s console dash includes a horizontal accessory panel with 22 functional breaker switches that are mounted directly under the MFDs and are in the perfect place, both visually and ergonomically, to afford fingertip control of the vessel’s critical systems. There is enough space to mount a pair of flush-fitting VHF radios, twin engine info displays, a joystick control for your triple or quad outboards, a dedicated sea temp gauge, or whatever. The marine compass is set up top on the dash roof and away from the electronic cacophony below, directly in line with the helmsman’s vision. The spacious console includes a head down under, vanity and freshwater sink and plenty of storage space.

Every Contender is built with hand-laid fiberglass, using multi-directional fabrics and a foam cored solid glass stringer system, with vinylester resins and specially formulated gel coats for a high gloss mirror like finish. Owners have a choice of 13 different hull gelcoat colors. Like all Contenders, she’s available with a plethora of comfort options. From teak packages, power actuated hatches and coolers, to several forward and rear seating options, you can trick her out to impress the most demanding crowd.

Contender’s 44 ST will get you to the fishing grounds quickly, which translates to more fishing time at both the beginning and end of the day. A 600-gallon fuel tank gives you the range you need to make it all happen. Factory tests with a full crew onboard and 400+ gallons of fuel indicated that even with a heavy combat load, she will easily top out at 65-mph powered by a trio of Yamaha’s other-worldly 425 XTO V-8 four-strokes. Dropping it back to a more sedate 4000 rpms, the factory team was able to coax 37-mph/32-knots out of her while burning 46-gph, for a net of 0.8-mpg. If you take her 600-gallon tankage and multiply that by 90 percent to leave a theoretical 10 percent reserve, this translates to a range of 432 statute miles at optimum cruise, which is plenty to hit just about any canyon on the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

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