BOAT REVIEW Dufour 470

April 2024 Yacht Reviews
Words by Sarah Ell. Video & photography by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Dufour 470
DESIGNER Felci Yacht Design
BUILDER Dufour Yachts
LOA 14.85M
LENGTH (Waterline) 13.55M
BEAM 4.74M
ENGINE 1 x Volvo 60hp Saildrive
Sail Area 107 SqM
  • Feels well balanced with good performance upwind and easy handling downwind
  • Spacious below decks with European styling
  • Self-tacking headsail looks after itself and in general everything can be handled from the cockpit

If you’re lucky, there comes a time when you can afford to give in to your desire to have a bigger, more comfortable cruising boat. The days of making do with a cramped interior, low headroom and an ‘intimate’ cockpit are gone, and you can finally step aboard something a lot larger and more luxurious.

But are there downsides to going large? What is it like to actually have a nearly 50 footer – quite a substantial yacht by anyone’s standards?
The Dufour 470 is 14.85 metres on deck, 13.55 metres on the waterline, and a massive 4.7 metres at maximum beam, which starts amidships and carries right aft. The topsides are high, although the low-profile cabin top saves her from looking too bulky or top-heavy. Make no mistake – this is a big boat, and it comes with some big boat features.


Approaching the boat off the dock, a large boarding platform folds down off the transom on a purchase system. A telescoping swim ladder slides out of the centre.
Facing the boat stern-on from the marina finger, it’s easy to see the hull shape which gives this boat its large interior volume without sacrificing sailing performance or giving it, for want of a better phrase, a ‘big bum’; the stern tapers in slightly and the hard chine which runs all the way down the topsides gives way to a more steeply cambered underwater section which lifts the stern out of the water. Unusually in a boat of this size, there is just a single rudder, positioned well forward, rather than a pair; more on that later.

There are steps up and a walkthrough to the cockpit on boat sides, with panels that fold down to create a ‘bench seat’ which runs right across the transom at cockpit level. The lidded central locker space here can be fitted with a barbecue or form the base of a large daybed. The twin wheels are positioned both well outboard and well aft and this, combined with the big beam, makes the cockpit area feel huge.
On the day of our sail the boat has yet to be fitted with a dodger and bimini to cover this area, so we are in ‘race boat’ mode, but once this canvaswork is in place it will create a very large and comfortable outdoor room.

The angled cockpit seating is ranged around a large table with fold-out leaves and built-in storage in the centre, with plenty of room to move around either side when the leaves are down. Wide coamings for a comfortable backrest and keep the practical sailing equipment out of the way when it’s relaxation time; there’s just a single pair of Lewmar winches positioned well aft on these coamings, with the primaries out on the side decks, within easy reach of the helm. A third pair, which are electric, are up on the cabin top, ready to receive the control lines running aft in channels under the deck to pop out at the keyboards and hoist halyards at the touch of a button. This, along with rope tail lockers at the rear of the cockpit seats (which also form a step up to the side decks), keeps the working area clear.

On this model, the Ocean configuration, the mainsheet is kept out of the way on a traveller running across the cabintop forward of the companionway, with a German mainsheet system running aft on both sides to the winches by the helm. In the Performance model, the traveller is in the cockpit and the winch package is also up-spec’d.
This boat is also set up with the standard furling, self-tacking headsail, which pretty much looks after itself once deployed, but there are side deck tracks to run a larger overlapper. In this configuration there’s not much need to go forward – everything can be handled from the cockpit – but if you do, the wide side decks have a solid toe-rail and there are plenty of grab handles.

The large-volume hull means there’s no shortage of storage space, either: there’s a very large lazarette accessed through the aft area of the cockpit, and more lockers under the cockpit seats.
There’s a single, central Raymarine screen attached to the back of the cockpit table and easily visible from both wheels, plus a smaller nav screen and extra instruments the starboard steering pedestal. The controls for the 60hp Volvo engine, accessed under the companionway steps, and the bow thruster are also by the starboard wheel.

Heading down below is like descending into Aladdin’s cave – even with the cabin top being kept low-profile, with the high topsides there is so much headroom down here even our very tall photographer has ample space, and at 1.63 metres tall I can barely reach up to slide the shutters closed across the roof hatches. This headroom space is carried right forward into the bow cabin, a rare occurrence on smaller boats but another benefit of going a bit large.
The saloon has a more European-style configuration, with the galley right forward, ranged across the boat. This means it’s got plenty of space too, with a three-burner gas hob, gas oven, twin sinks and top-loading chiller to port, and more bench and storage space and a pair of large chiller drawers to starboard. This is definitely a French boat: a hidden yet accessible wine rack is built into the low bulkhead between the starboard side galley and the saloon.

This layout allows for a large u-shaped settee to starboard, around a large table with a freestanding upholstered bench in the centre of the boat forming the fourth side. There’s more seating to port – a sofa which has the added bonus of converting into a recliner with a sloping back.

There’s a double cabin each side aft, with a head and shower room on the port side, accessible from the main saloon, and then in the bow the master cabin has a very roomy separate shower compartment to port, and separate head to starboard. As mentioned above, this cabin feels particularly roomy, with plenty of light coming in through-hull windows and tinted hatches above the bed.
Heading back up on deck, getting out of the marina in straightforward despite the fresh breeze, thanks to the bowthruster. It’s a bit fresher than we expected, with a decent south-westerly of around 15 knots pumping up the East Coast Bays into the waters off Gulf Harbour, but that’s a great chance to see how this boat actually sails.

We are not alone out on the water this afternoon; a military exercise seems to be underway off the Whangaparaoa, with three naval ships engaged in manoeuvres, while a Hercules circles overhead to complete the picture. (One of the ships is particularly intriguing, painted in grey ocean camo with a large red octopus on the side, which my sources in the military tell me is the Royal Naval patrol vessel SMS Spey – not, as we thought, an agent of SPECTRE.)

Spies or not, it’s good to get out of the marina and let the Dufour stretch her legs. Getting the boat set up to sail is easy; with the main in a stack-pack on the boom and the self-tacking furling jib, plus powered winches, it’s easy to get the sails up and trimmed.
And here comes the next surprise: despite the yacht’s size, she feels really easy and comfortable to sail, even in a good breeze and a chop. The helm position, out wide and far back, provides excellent visibility forward and all around, and the racing-style wheels are easy to handle.

That central rudder, positioned well forward, keeps its grip no trouble at all even when we’re pressed, with no sign of letting go. The sail plan, though modest for a boat of this size, feels well balanced, and she sits in the groove nicely upwind, bears away smoothly and is easy to handle off the wind as well. In fact, it’s not until I see the pictures from the photo shoot that I realise again what a big boat she is – it certainly didn’t feel that way on the helm.
Our sail over, and unmolested by the military, we head back to the marina to pack up and review. If it had been a slightly sunnier day, the yacht’s large cockpit would have been the ideal spot to sit back and relax; as it was, the roomy interior did the job just fine.

The Dufour 470 is another well-presented, French-built production yacht which offers comfort and space without compromising too much on what a yacht is actually for: sailing. Her roominess and comforts will appeal while cruising, while her simple sail setup and polite habits will make passage-making also a pleasure. She’s a big boat that offers a lot, without being too much of a handful.


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