Sander: I just sold a boat this summer, one I had owned since 1999. In that time, I had worked on just about every square inch of the boat, making upgrades and changes. My circumstances are different than yours, as I was selling because I had bought a new (bigger) boat; so, no withdrawal pains for me.
Nevertheless, it was still difficult to let go. Based on the first few potential buyers who looked at the boat, I thought I would be helping the new owner set up and launch the boat, and to maybe even help them learn to sail. However, I wound up selling to a guy who was an "expert" in this particular model of my boat. According to him, he had owned several Odays in the past, including two previous boats of this model. So he had no need or desire for my input. I offered to show him my changes and modifications, and he politely declined. The boat was launched and docked two slips away from my new boat for a few weeks, and I noticed a few things that he had changed. It was decidedly strange. And a little sad. I think if it weren't for my new boat (which I am very excited about), I would have been in quite a funk. If I were serving as a mentor for a new owner, I am convinced I would be much happier.
Thanks for the story and the circumstances are very different... with the only common thing is you relate selling a boat you owned and loved for almost 20 years.
Contest36s is not a common boat and those who want them seem to be a different sort from owners of Hunters, Pearson, Catalinas and so on. For one is it is a European built boat. Sure there are now several euro makers selling in US... even building here. I think Bene is one. Halberg Rassey, Swan, Dufor, Wauquiez and several others are in a different niche. Contest is kinda in that niche. Build quality is usually very high. Contest is built to Lloyd's specs.
People who wander by the few times Shiva is tied on a dock usually have no idea what the boat is who made and so on. But almost always make very positive comments. Those who come below are universally impressed by the workmanship, layout and volume including headroom. But people who don't know the boat are not looking for one. So Contest36s is a niche market.
She was sold as a racer cruiser. I don't race and didn't set the boat up for racing. She was used for local and distance cruising and has been equipped for that. But she is a fast sailer and I make 150-175 miles a day offshore and have done LIS to Bermuda in 4 1/2 a number of times... always less than 5 days.
She's super comfortable below and in the cockpit... where 3 adults can lie fully down if they want to! The boat is dry... probably because of the high free board. I have seen no boat in this size range with a well designed or comfortable cockpit. Very very easy to single hand as well.
A new sailor can't or may not see all the pluses that Zaal did with this brilliant design. I am not sure what sort of sailor would want this boat... but clearly they would be one who understands what the design is about and what sort of sailing it targets successfully.
I'll see what shows up.