Dufour Yachts shifted its marketing strategy two years ago and did away with its Performance and Grand Large differentiators, opting instead to go with a hybrid model and a solitary number in their naming scheme.
This created a combination yacht that’s both performance-oriented and popular with cruisers, and the approach seems to be working. The newly launched Dufour 61 becomes the second in this series and the flagship of the French builder’s line.
Despite the change in positioning, Dufour continued with their design team, Felci Yacht Design. At first glance, the Dufour 61 looks like a typical cruiser with a plumb bow, a long chine that builds interior volume, a low coachroof and plenty of beam. Below the waterline, however, she has the same single rudder and deep keel as the builder’s previous performance models.
The construction includes a solid fibreglass hull with an integrated structural grid topped by a cored and infused deck. The bow is blunt, and the drop-down transom is snub, maximising waterline length. The fractional rig has a tapered mast and triple aft-swept spreaders. The best sail plan for short-handed sailing is offered with a self-tacking jib and a Code 0 attached to the sprit.
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A boat must function well both under sail and at anchor, and Dufour has improved the on-deck experience from both perspectives.
There are two winches set on an angle on either side of the working cockpit. This is a nice separation, so crew handling sheets or halyards stay out of the way of the driver.
As is standard with Dufour, all lines are led aft and the decks are clear. Sailing simplicity includes a mainsheet attached up high on an arch which also holds a spray dodger. In the cockpit, twin helm stations are set on streamlined, angled pedestals with large multi-function displays, instruments and engine controls on superyacht-style binnacles.
The social cockpit is just ahead and features a drop-leaf table that hides an optional refrigerator and wide settees ideal for dining or napping. From here it gets really interesting. There’s an optional sunbed between the wheels. It’s the place to lounge because you’re in the centre of the action but still out of the way.
At anchor, the middle section of the sunbed can be raised to form an athwartships table while the forward and aft sections of the pad serve as seats. It doubles the al fresco dinner guest occupancy or forms the quintessential kids’ table.
An optional outdoor galley is integrated into the transom where the chef stands on the electric drop transom to use the grill and sink. With the transom open, you’ll also notice a full dinghy garage that accommodates the tender with an outboard attached.
Below, the Dufour 61 is reminiscent of the many models that came before but now with even more opportunity to make it your own.
Layout options include three or four cabins and three or four heads, but the way the accommodation can be switched up is surprising.
Our test boat was set up for proper owner cruising with the master in the bow and two cabins and heads aft. That leaves an open saloon with an L-shaped dinette and a folding table to port, and a C-shaped sofa to starboard.
The signature Dufour split galley separates the master stateroom from the saloon. To port is a double sink, a cooktop and a refrigerator/freezer, while to starboard is additional refrigeration and more countertop space. With the galley forward, the saloon benefits from the maximum beam of nearly 16ft 6in.
The master stateroom is forward and has a bed offset to port and a large head in the bow. This cabin and the saloon, with its forward-facing navigation desk on starboard, remain the same regardless of the rest of the configuration choices.
The galley can be located aft in the portside corner. This adds a small cabin with a single bed and head that are perfect for a professional captain. With the galley here, there’s room forward for an over/under twin cabin on port and an additional head across on starboard.
Another approach is to keep half the forward galley, put over/under bunks on starboard, skip the additional head and maintain the layout of the other cabins as is. To my eye, Dufour’s signature split galley makes the most sense for owner/operators.
This model defines bright and airy with what could be called an “array of sunshine” overhead. Triple fixed skylights lie ahead of triple opening hatches and bring in abundant light and ventilation.
Add to that the hull and deck portlights and the option of light wood and fabrics, and you’ll never feel buried in the hull. The fit and finish are quite upmarket for a production boat and Dufour prides itself on their workmanship with good reason.
The thing about sailing Dufour models is that they feel stout, competent and friendly. That last word can’t be underscored enough.
Today’s size creep has put less experienced or older sailors on some large designs that can get out of hand quickly. But the 61, like all Dufour yachts, is stately, measured and easy-going. With the self-tacking jib, there’s hardly anything to do even in a tacking duel. She stays on her feet and builds confidence as she takes care of her owners.
Wind speeds of 15-20 knots are perfect for this design. On flat water, you can expect to sail in the nine-knot range and enjoy pointing up to 40 degrees where the Dufour 61 is still comfortable and doesn’t feel overpowered.
A big boat requires a big engine, and this model offers a 175hp Volvo Penta diesel with a straight shaft that gets the job done. Top speeds are 9-10 knots, but an efficient cruise is more around eight knots. The boat responds quickly from a standstill as the prop pushes water directly over the single rudder. With a bow thruster, even this large model is a cinch to fit into the tightest of spaces.
Dufour now markets nine model from 32-61ft and they get better looking the bigger they grow. Our test boat was outfitted with a few extras including air-conditioning, genset, outdoor galley, electronics and more.
Add commissioning, bottom paint, delivery and a few other goodies, and you can expect a price tag around US$1.3 million. She’s versatile and attractive and instils confidence in anyone inspired by wanderlust.
This article first appeared on Yacht Style.
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