4 Most-Common Problems With Contender Boats (Explained)

Contender Boats are a semi-custom offshore fishing boat brand. The majority of them are center consoles.

You will find that Contender has fewer amenities and options than its competitors. However, they are widely known for reliability and performance, making them a first choice for fishers.

Contender has a solid reputation for creating rugged boats with a focus on competition. They are carefully hand crafted and engineered.

The latest model has opened up dredge fishing to center console boats which have been a serious weak spot until now.

If you are shopping for a Contender Boat, you are in the right place. We will share with you the most common concerns faced by boat owners.

We have searched through all the information to find the issues you might face with a Contender Boat.

RELATED: Are Contender Boats Reliable?

1) Design of the Hull

More recently, Contender has removed most of the wood from their construction. However, there are still some spaces in the hull that have wood.

The transom and the bottom anchor locker are two areas that still have wood. So the bottom anchor locker is not too much of a worry.

The transom, however, should be an area where you pay attention. No matter what type of protection is used on the wood, it still remains wood.

No amount of sealing, foaming, or fiberglass wrap is going to change the qualities of wood.

It can absorb water and fall prey to warping, expanding, and cracking. Any one of these can cause the boat to leak. While this may not be common, it is still possible.

The transom may also rot if there are holes or stress cracks left untreated. These areas allow water in the fiberglass and then attack the wood.

There have been some reports of cracked transoms.

They are rare but possible.

It can happen as a result of the outboard motor bracket flexing. The wood of the transom and fiberglass sides react differently to the flexing.

The console is also wood but does not help the boat sink or float and, therefore, is not a grave concern. However, you should be aware that it is there.


2) Wiring Concerns

There have been reports by some owners about problems with the wiring on the Contender Boats. In general, they do not think the wiring is as good as what you can find on some other boats.

The connections have not been heat shrunk to protect the connections from corroding.

There has also been some concern around the battery switches. Many owners in several forums have discussed that they have had to replace all the battery switches.


3) Cosmetic Damage

There have been some reports by owners that they have cracks in the gel coat on their boats. However, these stress cracks are a result of extensive use of the boat.

There is a large amount of information posted throughout boating forums about this particular concern. However, most of the time, this is mainly a cosmetic concern.

It is not typically a structural problem. However, contenders are run hard offshore and, as a result, are prone to stress cracks.

While This is mainly a cosmetic issue that does not allow water in; however, some boat owners do not like it.

You can correct cracks in the gel coat on your own, but some steps are more complex than others.

  1. The first step you should take is to wash and dry your boat.
  2. After that, you should gouge small cracks, so they are wide enough to fill in the crack with gelcoat paste.
  3. It would be best if you considered a miniature grinding tool to open up the crack to get the gelcoat in.
  4. Sand the area lightly and clean it again, but this time with acetone.
  5. Once you match the color of your gelcoat, mix up a batch of the gelcoat to fill in the areas with the paste using a putty knife.
  6. You want to ensure you get out all the air holes and overfill the hole.
  7. You have to wrap the area to keep the air out of the area because it will not cure properly.
  8. Sand the area again and finish with a high quality polish.


4) Older Model Contender Boat Parts

When you have an older model Contender, at some point, you may need parts. However, it is not clear how far back the Contender makes the parts available.

You can use the request form on the Contender website to request a replacement part.

However, according to forums and comments from owners of older models, those replacement parts are difficult to find. There are various manufacturers of older parts that you may need to contact to find these parts.

It is critical the know that these online retailers have small inventories making parts difficult to find.


General Pros and Cons for Contender Boats

Here are the general pros and cons.


Contender builds their boats for functionality and speed for those that enjoy offshore fishing.

Each of their models has several options available, which puts them in the category of semi-custom boats.

A Contender Boat is built with the intention of lasting durability and functionality. They have a clean design that is open to allow you to walk through them easily.

You will find that you have significant amount of storage in the recessed lockers. With a significant amount of rod-holders around the boat, you will never run out of places to hold your rod.

Contender only uses the highest quality fiberglass on their boats. This is because it has the highest level of unsinkability when compared to their competition due to the significant amount of foam placed in the core of the composite.

The wood areas of these boats are layered in vinylester resin.


  • All of the wood components, especially the wood transom.
  • Stress cracks causing cosmetic damage.
  • The inability to find parts for older model boats.


What Do the Reviews Say?

The Contender has a large amount of room to move around, fish, and gut a fish.

“I had a 31 Contender before my Palmetto. The layout on the boat is amazing. HUGE cockpit and fish boxes and room to spare. I had 225 Yamahas on it, and it was plenty power with an economical cruise.” [Source: saltwatercentral.com]

The Contender has a hefty price tag, but many boat owners believe they are worth the price.

“If you are looking to go new or relatively new, the T (and T stepped) models are some of the best riding boats I have been on. I also have owned a Contender and fished on numerous others; the boats have some of the best fishing layouts on the market.” 
[Source: thehulltruth.com]


What is the Resale Value on the Contender Boats?

There is not a large amount of solid data about the resale value of Contender Boats.

One of the reasons for this is that each boat is considered completely unique from another, which means there is no average resale for the boat models.

Also, Contender does not participate in sharing resale value information.

All of the information shared across the forums indicate that Contenders hold their value well.

For example, one buyer reported that they were looking at a well-maintained 31 Open from 2000. The original price was about $60,000.

It had a resale value between $48,000 to $70,000 in 2017.

A different owner reported that he sold his 2003 23 Open in 2018. He purchased it for $44,900 and took incredibly good care of it. Unfortunately, he sold it many years later for $43,000.

While there may not be sold data to prove it, anecdotally, Contender Boats hold on to their value.




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