All about Contessa

Contessa is a brand associated with seaworthiness and adventure, beauty and integrity.

Jeremy Rogers’ name is inextricably linked with Contessa, the brand he created back in 1966 with the birth of the first CONTESSA 26.

There were around 350 CO26s built in Lymington and a further 400 or so under licence in Canada. The Contessa 26 has a loyal following all around the world.  Often chosen as a world girdling expedition boat, the Contessa 26 also races at the highest level – winning the coveted Round the Island Gold Roman Bowl a total of five times with Jeremy Rogers’ own CO26 ‘Rosina’ responsible for three wins. The Contessa 26 enjoys the benefit of an active and friendly Class Association.

Contessa 26 Rosina

Image: Contessa 26 ‘Rosina’

Production of Contessas exploded during the 1970s with the incredibly popular CONTESSA 32  designed in collaboration with David Sadler.

Around 500 of these much loved boats have been built by Jeremy Rogers including 25 of the ‘new builds’ since 1996, and a further 87 were built under licence in Canada.

The Contessa 32 was the first of the Contessas to be used by the British armed forces for training and her performance in the tragic 1979 Fastnet Race forever cemented her reputation as the ultimate seaworthy sailing boat.

Since then, Contessa 32s have had more than their fair share of adventures, for some, like Willy Ker’s ‘Assent’  high latitude and blue water cruising is what they like to do best and others like Pierre Huglo’s ‘Fresh Herring’  have raced non-stop and single-handed around the world.

The Contessa 32 also enjoys an active and friendly Class Association with a full racing programme.

1973 saw the launch of the first SPARKMAN & STEPHENS CONTESSA 38 taking part in the One Ton Cup in Sardinia.  Production of the S&S 38 was limited to just 6 boats.

Sparkman and Stephens Contessa 38

Image: Sparkman & Stephens Contessa 38

The CONTESSA 35 was next, designed by Doug Peterson and spawning a run of over 70 further cruising versions of this One Ton Cup winner ‘Gumboots’.  In recent years the intrepid sailor Erik Aaneraa has made the Contessa 35 even more famous the world over.

In 1975 the quarter tonner ‘Hobnail’  was launched and a further 22 of these CONTESSA 25 hulls were built.

Hobnail Contessa 25

Image: Contessa 25 ‘Hobnail’

In 1977 the CONTESSA 43 ‘Moonshine’  was one of three boats chosen for the successful British Admirals Cup team.   A  total of 15 are still sailed and loved by owners around the world today.

Also in 1977 Doug Peterson added the CONTESSA 28 to the fleet, these deceptively spacious little yachts proved popular with 129 being built over the next four years.

In 1979 David Allan Williams designed the CONTESSA 38 as a larger alternative to the CO32.  Seven of these are still part of the Royal Navy’s fleet used for adventurous training.

1978 was the year Jeremy Rogers, ever the innovator, brought injection moulding to yacht building with launch of the OOD34.  Robin Knox Johnston was one of the first customers and there were more than 50 boats built and a further 8 of the updated CONTESSA 34s which were her successor,  first launched in 1982.

1979 saw the CONTESSA 39 ‘Eclipse’  chosen for the Admiral’s Cup – 15 cruising versions of these boats were launched and many are still in commission today.

The final two boats launched with the Contessa badge were  the Rob Humphreys designed CONTESSA 33 and CONTESSA 27.

Image: Contessa 39

In the early 1980s Jeremy built a number of specialist one-off racing yachts, notably ‘Smerelda Prima’  for the Aga Khan and ‘Apollo V’  for Australian Alan Bond’s 1981 Admrial’s Cup challenge, both Doug Peterson designs.