Contour 34 SC
Offshore trailerable tri
Contour Yachts President Paul Contouris insists that each new boat developed by his Erin, Ontario, firm "represents a big step forward. This is critical," he said, "because there are only a few major players in the trailerable trimaran market." There is no disputing that Contour's new 34 SC (sport cruiser) has upped the ante and probably changed the trailerable trimaran market forever. No longer do these boats have to be made with Spartan, plastic tunnel interiors just because they sail like the wind and can be shoehorned onto a trailer. Great performance is no longer enough. With the introduction of the 34 SC, trailerable trimarans have come of age.
The success of its previous big boat, the Contour 30 MK II, convinced Contour Yachts that there was a market for a larger, oceangoing folding trimaran. Once again, Cole Beadon was commissioned to design the new boat. Contouris and associate Rob Lambden had several key design priorities that made Beadon's task challenging.
They wanted the 34 SC to be the largest trailerable trimaran available with viable accommodations for extended cruising. The 34 SC had to also be a legitimate offshore yacht with transoceanic capabilities, and the swing-wing retractable ama system had to have the structural integrity of a fixed-beam system. They also recognized the need to develop an easy rigging system to keep the boat manageable for a couple to trailer. launch. And, while they wanted the boat to be set up for singlehanded sailing, with all controls led to the cockpit, they insisted that Beadon not compromise the mantra of pure performance.
When you first see the 34 SC charging along, leaving a rooster tail astern, you would never suspect that at the end of the day it will cruise over to the small-boat launching ramp and be hauled onto a trailer. And while this is surprisingly easy to do, it is not really the intent. Taking advantage of conventional dockage with the 12-foot, 6-inch folded beam, most 34 SC owners leave the boat in the water all season.
The trailer is convenient for hauling the boat behind a sport utility vehicle on a winter trip to Florida and practical for storing the boat in the driveway instead of paying off-season storage fees. An important design factor of the swing-wing system is that the amas stay on the same horizontal plane when collapsed. In fact, while slowly motoring, the amas can be winched in or out, which takes only a minute or two. As another development, the 34 SC akas (the arms that attach the amas to the main hull) extend well inboard when rotated to their sailing position and create a very rigid structure on the water when securely bolted in place.
Although all three hulls are proportionately narrow (using a DWL of 23.18 feet, the beam-to-length ratio of the main hull is 7-to-1), the overall beam of 24 feet, 4 inches makes the 34 SC seem huge when sailing. Each hull has a fine entry and a plumb bow. The amas are elliptically shaped for low wetted surface with a high prismatic coefficient. Therefore, as speed increases and the leeward ama immerses, the longitudinal center of buoyancy moves forward, preventing the bow from burying. The akas are also supported by stays to the main hull. The main hull has flattish sections, especially aft, and a wide stern to promote early planing. A sleek, rounded cabintrunk blends handsomely into the main hull.
When you consider the varied applications of the boat, from surviving on the interstate to weathering gales at sea, it becomes obvious that a high level of engineering expertise was required to build the 34 SC. "Not long ago it simply was not possible to build a folding tri of this size," Contouris said. "Our owners are really benefiting from advances in composite materials and building techniques." The 34 SC incorporates many different mold sections during the building process since a unique mixture of strength and light weight is required. The main hull is a composite construction and is reinforced with Kevlar and carbon fiber in high-load areas. It is solid fiberglass in the critical areas where the akas attach. Hull liners add structural support but limit access to the hull.
The displacement is only 4,850 pounds, which helps explain why speeds in excess of 20 knots are common. The rudder is outboard. The centerboard, which is controlled from the cockpit, extends the draft from 1 foot, 3 inches to 5 feet, 3 inches.
A walk about on deck
The cockpit of the 34 SC has an open transom and comfortably seats four. The helmsperson has great visibility, especially when leaning outboard with the tiller extension. There are rails on either side of the cockpit and most 34s come with a frame for a bimini top. The akas extend inboard to the forward face of a stout bridgedeck, which supports the mainsheet traveler. The genoa track, on the outboard edge of the main hull, allows for very close sheeting angles. Outboard leads on the amas are used for sheeting the asymmetrical chute and when reaching with an overlapping genoa called the screecher. All sail controls, including a single-line slab reefing system, are led to the cockpit. Deck hardware is first-rate, from self-tailing Lewmar sheet winches, to custom, polished stainless blocks by Garhauer, to Profurl roller-furling systems. Contour has not cut any corners.
The rotating, 45-foot mast has double spreaders and is supported by quick-assembly stays and checkstays. A short bowsprit provides tack points for the roller-furled screecher and the spinnaker. The roller-furled, self-tacking jib is stem-fitted and sets neatly inside the screecher. The full-batten main has a large roach and a lot of power but is easily corralled when doused inside lazy jacks. The sailplan, developed with North Sails, is simple but versatile and, like the rest of the boat, well-thought-out.
The interior of the 34 SC is, in some ways, not dramatically different from a performance monohull of comparable length. The headroom, at 6 feet, 3 inches, lends an air of spaciousness, with 10 opening Lewmar Ocean Series portlights and two overhead hatches providing excellent ventilation. The interior is trimmed in cherry wood and the level of finish work is excellent. The arrangement features a large V-berth cabin forward. Farther aft to port is an enclosed head with shower. The saloon has two comfortable 6-foot, 6-inch settees, which convert into sea berths.
The galley is aft, running astride and behind the companionway. When the stainless-steel stepladder is lifted out of the way, it becomes U-shaped. There is a good-sized icebox, a deep sink and a two-burner Origo nonpressurized alcohol stove. The electrical panel is aft to port. The 20-gallon water tank is stainless steel as is the fuel tank. The recommended 20-horsepower outboard mounts on a lifting stern bracket.
I had no trouble spotting the Contour 34 SC on a tranquil Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis: It was one of the few boats moving smartly in the light wind. I stepped onto the starboard ama and joined Rob Lambden in the cockpit. He trimmed the screecher, sheeted the main and we shot toward the outer bay. The performance of trailerable tris always impresses me, especially in light air, and the 34 SC was no exception. In winds of 6 to 8 knots true, we glided along at 6 knots. Rob suggested we fall off and pop the chute, which we did with minimal fuss. Fortunately, a bit more wind sprang up from the west and we sped along with fingertip control, touching 8 knots.
I was curious about its close tacking ability, especially in little wind, so we rolled in the screecher and set the self-tacking jib. We came through the wind effortlessly without touching a sheet. Hard on the wind, the big-roach main trimmed high on the traveler and the working jib drove the boat efficiently at less than 40 degrees apparent. The boat sailed flat and moving about the wide side decks of the main hull felt natural, like, dare I say, a monohull. Of course, lounging on your back on the leeward trampoline is something a monohull just doesn't offer.
The fresh-thinking Contour 34 SC offers unique and exciting possibilities for sailors who demand exceptional performance and complete trailerability. With a livable interior and solid construction, the 34 SC is, as Lambden claims, Òan offshore yacht that just happens to be a trailerable trimaran.