Contender 23T: A blue-water dream boat
  |  First Published: September 2007

There’s a new boat dealership opened at Brookvale, Wallrock Marine, run by local Sam Wallrock.

Sam has spent all his life fishing or repairing boats and motors. A registered fishing guide, a qualified marine mechanic and a commercial Master V mariner make this man very qualified to talk about all aspects of fishing, fishing boats and propulsion. I have known Sam for many years, having met him when he was a guide on one of my jaunts to the Northern Territory, and we became firm friends. His knowledge of the business is huge and a nicer, more obliging bloke you have yet to meet.

Because angling is Sam’s forte, it was only natural that he was on the look-out for a range of purebred fishing machines. He found it in the Contender series, built in Florida.

These hand-made pedigree boats are not for everyone because they command a higher price than the run-of-the-mill production boats. However, attention to detail is evident everywhere; nothing is left to chance or substituted with a cheap alternative. Sam now has the full range of Evinrude and Johnson outboards available, too.

It was a cold morning at Roseville boat ramp when we launched the Contender 23 Tournament off the multi-roller aluminium trailer. Braced against the ‘mini fixed-back leaning post’ (which I call a seat), we motored through the four-knot zone with the twin 150HP counter-rotating E-Tecs gurgling in anticipation.

Because the centre console and its T-top are set well back, there is an awful lot of boat in front of you. Although listed as a 23’ Tournament, the boat is in fact 7m (25’) overall. With a beam of 2.6m, a permit is needed for towing because it is oversize but the standard Contender 23 comes in with a beam of 2.5m for those who desire to tow at all hours.


I know this boat has a high price tag but I couldn’t help but be gobsmacked at the little things that go to make this boat. For instance, all hatches come with all-round seals to ensure waterproof integrity and to put an end to annoying rattles. Underfloor boxes are insulated and gelcoated, not flowcoated, so ice will last for a trip and they are easy to clean.

Every recessed catch has a red dot on one side to indicate it’s locked or unlocked and each electrical switch has a circuit breaker – not a fuse – for quick reset when under way.

A large covered anchor well will hold a mile of warp and there’s a tube to slot the anchor in so it will remain put when travelling. Although the well is drained, there was no internal means to tie off the bitter end of the warp. I loved the pop-up cleat and pop-up small port/starboard navigation light.

There’s heaps of room up forward to fish and the non-slip floor was just that, even when wet. Underfloor storage is everywhere up front but there are no side pockets although they can be ordered as an extra.

A large door in the front of the console reveals all the electrics, twin batteries, two four-way battery isolating switches, circuit breakers, freshwater and saltwater deck wash pumps and a mile of dry storage. Everything is very easy to get to and maintain.

Each side of the console are three rod holders. There are Velcro tear-outs in the T top to allow long rods to pass through, a nice touch.

This boat comes complete with an anodised aluminium T-top with a full set of Top Gun outriggers, LED lighting, twin halogen spotlights plus a four-shooter rocket launcher. Everything makes for a very spunky-looking boat.

Vision forward is excellent although the small Plexiglas screen will protect only one person against the elements. There’s no problem with comfort at the leaning post and there’s a recessed area at the bottom of the console to accommodate a pair of feet.

With a stainless steel steering wheel and a twin engine controls, you definitely feel you are in command of a big boat. The left trim switch works both engines in unison and there are separate motor trim/tilt switches on the dash.

All electronics, such as sounder and GPS, are flush-mounted right in front of you and protected by a hinged plastic cover. Standard Evinrude digital gauges give a feast of information.

Under the dash is a plethora of switches, each with their own breaker, to control lights, pumps, bilges, etc.

Behind the leaning post were an extra four rod holders and underneath, an area plus strap to accommodate a large esky.

A huge kill tank sits underfloor near the transom. Did I mention that all underfloor boxes are drained to the outside? A very practical bait and rigging table with another four rod holders hangs off the transom and inset in the transom is a huge, rounded-corner fully plumbed livebait well. A removable rear transom lounge has a backrest and will seat two large adults.

A transom door, telescopic stainless boarding ladder, swim platforms and a berley bucket finish the transom. Two small, bath type drains in the aft quarters make the whole deck self-draining. I would like to see bigger scuppers on this open boat because if a huge ‘greenie’ does come aboard, you want it to disperse very quickly and I don’t think the small drains would cope.


Reaching open water, I hit the throttles and the big boat leapt forward, the E-Tecs hardly disturbing the early morning rowers. At 4000rpm, each motor drinks around 25 litres an hour. Pushed hard, the Contender 23 Tournament will achieve 47 knots (55mph or 88.5kmh) at 5800rpm with 17” Rebel stainless props.

With a massive 800 litres of fuel (tanks are aluminium sheathed in fibreglass) plus 125 litres of fresh water, this boat anglers to explore what’s over the horizon, knowing there’s plenty left in reserve.

After stopping one motor and tilting it out of the water, the boat immediately slipped back up on the plane on the remaining donk and did a very respectable 25 knots – a comforting safety factor.

With a 24.5° deadrise, I don’t have to tell you she just laughed at the chop and cleaved her way through big swells that were remnants of a storm that swept Sydney a few days before.

I was surprised at how stable the Contender was when under way. Normally deep-vee boats are tender to crew movement but this ship didn’t budge an inch, even when we did the stationary lean test.

In full reverse, water just bubbled against the swim platforms, making it a safe boat to back down on big fish. Standard trim tabs are hardly needed because motor trim gave all required to make the boat light on the helm. However, with a few bodies on board, plus gear, tabs would come into their own.

The hydraulic steering makes swinging the two big motors at low speeds a doddle, especially with the aid of the knob on the stainless wheel.

I backed the trailer down the ramp and the fully imported aluminium cradle embraced the boat comfortably and within minutes we were away looking for a coffee shop to de-brief and warm the bodies.

It’s big bucks for this baby, I know, but this investment gives an awful lot of hardware for the dollar. Build quality is excellent, which means things won’t go wrong, corrode, rust or break down. The bottom line is that a heap of hard-earned moolah is saved over the years. Because the E-Tecs need servicing only every 300 hours or three years, there’s more money back in the pocket.

In a nutshell, the Contender 23 Tournament is a very safe, comfortable, blue-water platform that will definitely turn heads at the ramp.


Length overall7.7m
Total weight (approx)2.83 tonnes
Fuel capacity800 litres
Max power400hp

Standard inclusions: Foam flotation, self draining cockpit, non-skid floor, choice of hull colour, heavy-duty rub rail, dive platform, transom door, telescopic boarding ladder, all underfloor boxes lined and insulated, plumbed livebait well, twin batteries, LED cockpit lighting, deck spotlights, T-top, rocket launcher, hydraulic steering, trim tabs, 2000GPH auto bilge pump, compass, nav lights, pop-up cleats, fairleads, 4 gunwale rod holders, handrails, spreader and outriggers, console rod holders, freshwater wash-down, saltwater wash-down, seat with 4 rod holders, rear bench seat.

Price as tested with counter-rotating Evinrude E-Tec 150hp engines, multi roller aluminium trailer, electric braking, delivery, 12 months rego, stamp duty and safety gear: $166,990.

Boat supplied by Wallrock Marine, Unit 12, 122-126 Old Pittwater Road, Brookvale NSW 2100. Phone 0432 736 500. Email: --e-mail address hidden-- Website (for Contender boats) www.contender.com

Boat shot 5

Racy lines, a Florida offshore pedigree, fine workmanship and impressive fishability make the Contender 23 Tournament the dream boat of a whole heap of offshore anglers.

Boat shot 7

The counter-rotating E-Tecs don’t take up much room on the 2.6m transom.

Full walk around configuration

The console is set well aft, allowing for plenty of fishing room on the drift.

Helm station

The helm station features a plexiglass-fronted box large enough to mount an array of electronics.

Electronics and storage cab

Inside the console the wiring, fuel and electrics systems are meticulously laid out and there’s heaps of room for storage.

One of the many lines, insu

Hatches are all insulated and covers are rubber-gasketed to eliminate rattles.

Plumbed live bait well

The bait well is fully plumbed and can take a host of livies.

Pop up nav light and cleat

The pop-up navigation light combo and cleat mean the foredeck has no obstructions.

Rod holders in console

With Velcro openings in the T-top canvas, rods of any length can be stored ready in the holders either side of the console.

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