BOAT REVIEW Dufour 460

November 2016 Yacht Reviews
Words by Sarah Ell, photos by Nando Asevado
Build Quality
MODEL Dufour 460
DESIGNER Umberto Felci
CONSTRUCTION GRP, injected deck
LOA 14.15M
ENGINE 75hp Volvo with Saildrive
Sail Area 99.8 SqM
  • Stylish inside and out
  • Layout to suit Kiwi cruisers
  • Huge galley
  • Easy to sail
  • Performs well
  • Dry boat
  • One of the bigger boats in the Dufour range
  • Coastal cruiser with performance
  • Like a luxury bach on the water
  • Also available in Performance and Exclusive livery

You can pull on another oilskin, sheet in the jib and grit your teeth – or you can ease back and sail the Dufour way – all while looking fairly elegant.

The good old Kiwi cruising yacht used to be something a bit small or slow to race. ‘Going cruising’ involved roughing it, getting a wet bum occasionally and eating a lot of instant Rice Risotto.
The French, however, have a different attitude. When they cruise, they do it in style. And when they build a cruising yacht, they make sure it’s good and comfortable – and has plenty of space to stow wine.
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Dufour, based in La Rochelle on France’s southwest coast, is one of the big French production yacht manufacturers, building around 400 boats a year. While it has been represented in New Zealand for a number of years, the agency’s now held by Flagship Marine, which recently brought in two new boats to tempt local palates.
One of these is a brand-spanking-new Dufour 460 Grand Large (the name is a bit of a tautology, ‘grand’ being French for ‘large’, but let’s not split hairs), which was on display at the recent Auckland On Water Boat Show. Designed by Italian Umberto Felci, a specialist in ‘fast cruisers’, at 14.15m she is one of the bigger boats in the Grand Large range. (For those who want a bit more sailing smarts Dufour also produces the Performance range, and for those who want a mini-superyacht, there’s the Exclusive 56 and 63.)
Local agent Liam Power of Flagship Marine says this particular 460 has been tricked out for the New Zealand cruising market, selecting the options which he feels will appeal to Kiwis and make the boat practical for our
waters. “It’s for people who just want to go out and enjoy coastal cruising, but still want a bit of performance.”
And enjoy it in style. The holiday experience begins as soon as you step aboard. The teak-lined transom folds down on a purchase system for easy boarding, and for simple swimming when at anchor. But that’s not all: the seats that form the back of the cockpit hide a clever little secret. Lift their lids and there’s not only a built-in gas barbecue, but also a sink and prep area. Think of this part of the boat as being your ‘back deck’ and the ocean being your ‘pool’.
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The maximum beam of 4.5m amidships is carried almost all the way aft, making for a massively wide cockpit. A drop-leaf table takes centre-stage, with storage in one end and refrigerator at the other, so no one has to disturb themselves to go down below for more cold drinks. The spot you want to snare is on the port side, where the seat has a fold-up flap to create a large day-bed (or ‘sunbath’ as the French so delightfully call it), with a special
oversize squab.
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But enough of the lounging . . . from a sailing point of view, the twin wheels are set well aft, and there’s a handy foot-chock both sides to make steering standing up comfortable when the boat is heeled. On each side is a Raymarine GPS chart-plotter and various instruments, with the controls for the 75hp Volvo sail-drive on the
starboard side (the standard engine is 55hp, and this boat has the optional jet-powered bow-thruster for ease of parking, too).
There’s a primary winch both sides – electric on this boat, as an option – for trimming the mainsheet, which is a German system running down both side decks, enabling sheeting to port or starboard. These winches are also used to furl the jib, and trim it if you feel the need – the boat has a self-tacker track which we used on the day of our test, but you can get a 108 per cent overlapper and trim it manually, using the genoa cars on tracks on the sidedecks, if you feel like working up an appetite for your next beer.
“Most people just want to get the sails up and get going, so the self-tacker is perfect for cruising,” Power says.
And if you’re feeling really sporty, there’s an optional gennaker as well, flown off the bowsprit. There’s a massive sail locker to stuff it in at the bow, too – so deep it has a built-in ladder to climb down into it.
On the cabin-top are two further winches (one electric) and the keyboards, all tucked away comfortably under the large dodger, which has a short mainsheet traveller in front of it. We sailed dodger-only on our test, but there’s also a full bimini to cover the entire cockpit — almost a necessity in the New Zealand sun.
The main folds down into a lazy-bag, so no one has to be running around on the cabin-top flaking the main. Flagship has chosen a slightly larger rig than standard to cope with New Zealand conditions, and upspec’d the Elvstrom sails to the ‘Offshore’ package – using a heavier-grade dacron – for those days when you have to come back from the Barrier in a southwesterly.
Heading down below, you can really see the effects of that generous beam. Basically, coming down the stairs you enter into what can only be described as ‘the lounge’ – saloon just doesn’t cut it. The cabin is so wide there is room for a table which seats eight – both on the bench seat along the wall and on a separate, free-standing seat running along the opposite side of the table.
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Then behind that, on the port side, is another comfy two-seater ‘sofa’, which pulls out into a semi-reclining position. The nav station on the starboard side is moveable: the seat can either be part of the couch arrangement, with the chart table against the aft bulkhead, or the seat and tabletop swapped over on runners so you can navigate facing forwards.
Just like an old-school cruising boat, the main saloon seating area can also be converted into another double bed, if you end up with more guests than you were expecting. As Power says, “The perfect boat entertains twelve, feeds six and sleeps two, but sometimes you have a few stragglers.”
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But what really catches your eye on coming below is the galley. Instead of being tucked aft to one side, it dominates the front bulkhead, stretching right across the boat. There’s more space in this ‘kitchen’ than in many Auckland
apartments, with a three-burner gas stove and top-loading freezer to port, along with a large sink with a mixer tap you’d be more likely to see in a showhome, and ample bench space. To starboard there’s more bench space, storage and – excuse my French – the pièce de résistance, a double-drawer fridge. Surely a godsend to anyone who has rummaged around in a cramped yacht fridge looking for the butter!
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then the way to get him to spend money on a nice boat is by providing the kind of galley his wife is likely to approve of – and this ticks that box.
And while we Kiwis might like our summer beers, this is a French boat, so there is wine-bottle storage tucked away here, there and everywhere: including in the sofa arms and inside the long divider between the galley and saloon.
Large hatches overhead in the cabin-top let in plenty of light to the galley area, and can be covered with pull-across shades. This particular configuration of the 460 has a double berth each side aft, a head and shower accessed from the main cabin, and a master suite forward, with its own separate head and shower rooms. Close the door up here and you’re completely self-contained, away from guests or family, and you don’t even have to wait to use the bathroom if your spouse is in the shower.
All the interior spaces are light and bright, thanks to the pale oak panelling, large overhead hatches and deck-level and through-hull portholes. The French have gone all-out on the mood-lighting too: there are LED strip-lights under all the  cabinetry at bench and floor level, and blue LEDs for subtle illumination at night. It’s cruising, Jim, but not as we know it.
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Auckland’s spring weather has finally – and briefly – decided to cooperate, and we have both sun and breeze for our sail. This is the first time the boat has been sailed since arriving in New Zealand, but the all the sail-handling systems seem to work smoothly and we have rag up and are reaching up the harbour in very short order.
The helm is light in the 10–12 knots of breeze, and you can feel the hull settle onto its long chine once a bit of pressure comes on and the boat starts to heel. Another big plus of that wide beam and high freeboard is that the deck stays very dry: even when we are heeled and sailing through the wake of numerous powerboats, there’s not one drop of water on the deck.
On the wind, I quickly discover that it’s not necessary to tack too hard and fast: this is a cruising boat, after all. A gentle turn of the wheel and the Dufour responds promptly. All I have to do is swap wheels and trim my foot chock as we settle in on the other board.
Tacking is a non-event for the crew, too: with the mainsheet centred on the traveller and the self-tacking jib doing its thing, all the ‘passengers’ have to do is swap their drinks to their other hands.
“We’d better make sure we lay the bridge this time, to avoid all this hard tacking,” Flagship’s Keith Eade says drily.
With the main dropped tidily into the lazy-bag and jib furled away, we head back to the dock, pleased to have taken advantage of our weather window. It’s been a pleasant few hours on an extremely comfortable boat.
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Power says the sailing fraternity in New Zealand is growing on the back of a booming economy, with boats like this appealing to people who want a super-comfortable, super-easy way to get out of the water: pleasure boating with fewer of the wet and messy bits. “We are seeing new people coming into the sailing arena,” he says. “People are looking at it as a way to take their family away and have the kind of Kiwi holiday we used to have.”
“It’s like having a bach, but you get a different beach to look at every day,” adds Eade.
With her generous interior volume, cruising comforts like that built-in barbecue and enough space for the whole family, the Dufour is definitely a ‘bach on the water’ – and more ‘mansion at Omaha’ than fibrolite shed. At $590,000 for the base boat, it’s cheaper than a section with a cottage on it anywhere within a three-hour drive of Auckland – and you don’t have to mow the lawn.


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