Contour 50

by Quentin Warren

Blue Water Sailing
October 2002


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Big-boat performance tri

When he was hard at work for Contour Yachts in Canada, designer Rob Lambden spent more years than he is probably willing to divulge frustrated in the attempt to take the concept of a folding trimaran and imbue it with long-range cruising accommodations and oceangoing sailing performance. He tried it in 30 feet but that certainly didn’t work; 34 was progress in the right direction, but still no go. His goals and those of Contour were well-defined if elusive: “To create an interior equal functionally to that of a 45-foot monohull, and to achieve performance superior to most production multihulls of any size.” Given the constraints of beam in the main hull of any trimaran aspiring to perform, length became the significant variable. “In the trimaran configuration, you have plenty of room once you get to 45 feet,” he claimed. “You need the length to be able to afford the beam.”

So that’s the road that he and Con-tour’s chief engineer Steve Killing followed. BWS reported on his efforts in a September 2000 design piece, when the vision had grown to 47 feet. It worked on paper at the time, then became 50 feet once all the details had been addressed (and there were many). Eventually the boat made it to the production floor where it materialized as the Contour 50. It came in three offshore configurations—Sport Cruiser, Long-Range Cruiser and Magnum Edition.

The boat is an impressive 50-footer with tremendous performance potential, not to mention the versatility that comes from being able to retract overall beam from 31 feet to 12 without the use of a chainsaw. To be sure, the convertible amas are not designed for daily deployment. In fact in our design review we asked: “On a boat this size, what does it take to swing those things in and out, and can you really just bolt them in place at will? The answers are a lot and no.” Basically, you only use the convertible feature when you need to bring beam in to 20 feet or so for berthing and storage or Travelift access, or to 12 for overland hauling.

Lambden’s performance imperative led him to come up with some interesting solutions to the need for volume and enhanced accommodations below. In a March 2002 perspective on multihulls we noted that the Contour 50 main hull achieves a waterline length-to-beam ratio of 9:1, with radically flared topsides that allow for increased interior volume above the waterline, without having to pay for any of it below the waterline by way of wetted surface and drag. The rig is towering, with dual headsails flown off a bowsprit and the stemhead on the main hull. An easy 20-knot-plus boat, this Contour has the beam and waterline length to be powerful and fast and stable, all at the same time. Directional stability is aided by a nine-foot pivoting centerboard.

The push for 45-foot monohull accommodations results in private cabins forward and aft, a long main saloon with galley and nav, and two separate heads. The flared topsides alluded to above keep the interior from feeling like the fuselage of a small missile, which is what most offshore trimarans by needs end up feeling like below. The boat achieves something on the order of 6’2” headroom in the ends and 6’6” in the main saloon area, plus a surprisingly generous bilge for equipment, tankage, and even a bow thruster.

The Contour 50 is certainly no casual play toy for beginners but rather a serious cruising boat with great speed potential and a place to be at home when the sails come down. We summed it up in March 2002 by saying, “The spidery persona of offshore trimarans is captivating to begin with; add comfort and usable volume and you’re really onto something.”

LOA 50’0” (15.2 m.)
LOD 47’0” (14.3 m.)
LWL 44’0” (13.4 m.)
Ama length 45’0” (13.7 m.)
Beam 31’0” (9.5 m.)
Travelift beam 20’0” (6.1 m.)
Road beam 11’11” (3.6 m.)
Draft (bd up) 4’11” (1.5 m.)
Draft (bd dn) 8’9” (2.7 m.)
Displ. 13,500 lbs. (6,124 kgs.)
Sail Area 1,250 (116.1 sq. m.)
D/L 71
SA/D 35.3
Length/Beam (hulls) 9:1
Fuel 60 gal.
Water 50 gal.
Auxiliary Yanmar 40-hp diesel
Designer Rob Lambden and Steve Killing

Contour Yachts
25 Shamrock Road
Erin, Ontario N0B 1T0
Ph: 519-833-9490

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