File:Contender sailing dinghy.jpg|
A Contender on reach
|LOA||4,870 mm (192 in)|
|Beam||1,500 mm (59 in)|
|Draft||1,447 mm (57.0 in)|
|Hull weight||83 kg (180 lb)|
|Mainsail area||10.8 m2 (116 sq ft)|
The International Contender is a single-handed high performance sailing dinghy, designed by Bob Miller, latterly known as Ben Lexcen, (Australia) in 1967 as a possible successor to the Finn dinghy for Olympic competition.
"Single-handed" means sailed by only one person. The boat has a trapeze which allows the sailor to use his weight more effectively. The design of the boat does not favour sailors within a narrow or extreme size or weight range, past champions have ranged from 60 kg to more than 90 kg. While physical fitness, agility and strength are advantageous, good technical sailing skills and experience can count for more.
Sailors wishing to master the Contender must learn how to trapeze and steer the boat at the same time, and how to move about the boat while keeping it level. As part of race tuning, the Contender mast is commonly raked well aft, which results in restricted space between the boom and deck. Tacking consequently requires technique and practice to avoid getting stuck under the boom. Sailing the boat level at all times (except in very light winds) is fastest and reduces capsizes, which can happen fast if the boom dips into the water. There is a trade-off between raking the mast far aft and keeping the kicker (boom vang) tight at all times (which is faster) and the higher probability of capsizing due to this less forgiving set up. Unlike older and heavier dinghy designs, the Contender requires the centerboard to be lowered at least somewhat to avoid quick capsizes when reaching and running in a breeze.
World Championships held in Europe are typically contested by between 100 and 150 competitors. The World Championship held in January 2010 at Brisbane, Australia was won by Jono Neate of Australia, There is will also be a European championship in La Rochelle France this year in late July. The 2011 World Championship event is to be held in Great Britain.
The Contender is recognized as an International Class by the International Sailing Federation, the governing body of sail boat racing, which administers the class rules.
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