The Contessa 32 Sailboat

The Contessa 32, a masthead sloop, was designed by David Sadler and built in the UK and Canada by Jeremy Rogers Ltd and J J Taylor & Sons respectively.

A Contessa 32 sailboatThe Contessa 32 is renowned for its seakeeping qualities

Published Specification for the Contessa 32

Underwater Profile: Fin and Skeg

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 32'0" / 9.8m

Waterline Length: 24'0" / 7.3m

Beam: 9'6" / 2.9m 

Draft: 5'6" / 1.7m

Rig Type: Masthead Sloop

Displacement: 9,500lb / 4,309kg

Designer: David Sadler

Builder: Jeremy Rogers Ltd (UK); J J Taylor & Sons (Canada)

Year First Built: 1972

Year Last Built: Still under production in UK

Number Built: 600+ to date

Owners Association: Contessa 32 Class Association


Published Design Ratios for the Contessa 32

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 15.5

  • Less than 16 would be considered under-powered;
  • 16 to 20 would indicate reasonably good performance;
  • Over 20 suggests relatively high performance.

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 47.4

  • Under 40: less stiff, less powerful
  • Over 40: stiffer, more powerful

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 307

  • Under 100: Ultralight
  • 100 to 200: Light
  • 200 to 275: Moderate
  • 275 to 350: Heavy
  • Over 350: Ultraheavy

4. Comfort Ratio: 27.7

  • Under 20 indicates a lightweight racing boat
  • 20 to 30 indicates a coastal cruiser
  • 30 to 40 indicates a moderate offshore cruising boat
  • 40 to 50 indicates a heavy offshore boat
  • Over 50 indicates an extremely heavy offshore boat

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.8

  • Under 2.0 (the lower the better): Better suited for ocean passages
  • Over 2.0: Less suited for ocean passages

read more about these all-revealing numbers...


Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Contessa 32

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of just 15.5 suggests that the Contessa 32 will need a stiff breeze to get her going. In light conditions, unless you've got plenty of time on your hands, motor-sailing may be the way to go.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 47.4 means that the Contessa 32 will stand up well to her canvas in a blow, helping her to power through the waves.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 307, tells us the Contessa 32 is clearly a heavy displacement cruising boat. You can load her down with all your cruising gear and equipment and it will hardly affect her waterline. Not an ideal choice for coastal sailing, but she'll come into her own on an offshore passage in testing conditions.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 27.7 suggests that crew comfort of a Contessa 32 in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a coastal cruiser with moderate stability, which is not encouraging news for anyone prone to seasickness. 

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.8 tells us that a Contessa 32 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 

Other sailboats in the Contessa range include:


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