Built For Bluewater
Yachting World|October 2019
Made for an owner with a very particular set of demands, the first contest 85cs incorporates a host of features that make it a world cruiser with a difference. David harding tells the story
David Harding

Cruising the world in a large, fast, comfortable yacht is everyone’s dream. Even if your finances allow the dream to become a reality, however, you’re still faced with the practicalities of running the boat; of undertaking or organising maintenance and repairs in parts of the world where you won’t find lift-out facilities and a well-stocked chandlery in every port.

You might have a permanent crew, but a modern yacht and its systems are complex. The greater the size, the greater the complexity and the more crew you will need, so how do you make sure you can enjoy your sailing with minimal downtime and without an army of technicians to hand? And if you’re a keen and experienced sailor who doesn’t want to forego the simple, elemental pleasures of sailing when a boat becomes larger, how do you make sure you end up with a boat that’s still fun to sail?

The answer to all these questions is to make some important decisions carefully from the outset. This is the story of a boat whose owner did exactly that; who knew what he wanted and chose with the greatest care. Those choices were, critically, shaped by the loss of his previous yacht, an extended Oyster 825 also named Polina Star, which lost her keel and sank in the Med in 2015.

Here we’re going to look at the design, the systems and the engineering that have gone into the creation of the new, truly remarkable yacht – an 85-footer that can be handled by a crew of two and in which sophistication and technology are combined with good oldfashioned back-to-basics practicality.

A project of integration

Few decisions are more important than choosing your builder. For the owner of Polina Star IV, that decision was easy: Contest. It might not be the first name you think of for a boat of this size, but with the launch of the 85CS this Dutch builder has shown itself capable of more than just challenging the established names at the top end of the semi-production market.

Contest celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. And that’s 60 years in the ownership of the same family. During this time it has progressively moved up the size range. Having started, as many of us will remember, with the 25, Contest produced classics such as Dick Zaal’s phenomenally successful 31. Recent decades have seen the launch of the 42, 45, 50, 57, 62, 67 and 72 – though not in that order – so the development of the 85 has been a significant, if not wholly unexpected, step.

Venturing into new territory is something Contest has, in its own quiet way, done many times before. This is not a company that bangs its own drum particularly loudly. It just gets on with developing boats that people have wanted to buy for the past 60 years. It was in the vanguard when it came to introducing features such as keelstepped, swept-spreader fractional rigs with large mainsails and smaller foretriangles. At the same time it has been building to Lloyd’s standards since 1972, making a point of blending innovation with structural integrity.

For Polina Star’s owner, one reason for choosing Contest is that he had already owned two previous boats from the yard – a 48 and a 62. When the time came for the next one a few years ago, the 72 was the largest in Contest’s range and wasn’t big enough. To accommodate a permanent crew of two or three and have comfortable quarters for the owner and guests too, all with a degree of privacy, you need 80ft.

An alternative yacht of a suitable size was found but, when circumstances dictated that it be replaced, Contest was the yard on the receiving end of the call. Plans had already been afoot for an 85, and, not surprisingly, progress was accelerated by the prospect of an owner for the first boat. In the autumn of 2018, after more than two years of collaboration between Judel/Vrolijk, Contest’s in-house engineers, the owner, his skipper and Wetzels Brown Partners (interior designers), the new Polina Star was launched.

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