By Zuzana Prochazka

Two become one

Dufour 530French sailboat builder, Dufour Yachts, has, for a long time now, marketed two lines: Performance and Grand Large – the first was speedy and the second swanky (read: comfort-laden). Their new launch, however, refuses to be pigeonholed. It’s a type of hybrid that debuted in Dusseldorf last year and then made its way across the Atlantic. Is this a strategy shift for Dufour and is it likely to bring two markets together successfully? We tested one mid-pandemic to find out.

Design
Dufour stuck with their well-tested design team of Felci Yacht Design. Maybe that’s why the 530 still looks like a typical Dufour cruiser, with a plumb bow, a hard chine that builds interior volume, and a low coachroof. But below the waterline, the 530 has the same rudder and keel as Dufour’s performance models and despite the boat’s 16-foot beam, there’s a single rudder which is a departure from most of today’s design thinking.

Construction
The construction includes a solid fibreglass hull with an integrated structural grid topped by an infused deck. The bow is blunt and the drop-down transom is snub, maximizing waterline length. Below the waterline, there’s a choice of three keels, shoal (6’ 4”), standard (7’ 5”), and performance (9’ 1”).

The SaloonBy placing the galley forward, Dufour has placed the saloon aft, maximizing the space at full beam.

The 9/10s fractional rig has a tapered, deck-stepped Z-Spar mast and double aft-swept spreaders. The mainsail can be fully battened or furling and although an overlapping genoa is available, the best sail plan for short-handed sailing would be the self-tacking jib with a Code 0 attached to the sprit.

The Galley

 

 

 

 

Galley - In the 530, Dufour continues with their signature split galley that creates a bit of separation and privacy for the master stateroom forward and allows multiple cooks to work simultaneously.

Choices

There are three versions offered with the rig, keel and some deck features changing depending on your choice. The “Easy” version is fairly bare-bones and is destined for charter. The “Ocean” interpretation is for distance cruising and has the standard mast and a choice of keel depth. Finally, the “Performance” version is targeted at the club or offshore racer and comes with a taller mast that adds a third set of spreaders and the nine-foot keel. Experienced cruisers may opt for this version as well.

On Deck
With this new model, Dufour’s focus was the on-deck experience. When sailing, everything is within easy reach. The optional German-style mainsheet leads back to two primary winches near the wheels. Two more winches for the jib sheets are on the cockpit coaming and halyard winches are on the cabin top near the companionway. All winches can be made electric and all lines are led aft.

Transom GalleyYears ago, Dufour introduced the concept of the transom galley with the ability to grill outside and keep heat and cooking odors out of the boat itself.

The cockpit is large, A-shaped and fairly standard for Dufour. Twin helm stations are set on sexy, minimalist pedestals with 12-inch Raymarine HybridTouch MFDs. Engine controls are to starboard and are mounted on the pedestal, which is ideal when docking and needing to keep your eyes up and forward instead of staring down at your knees.

As is typical on a Dufour, there’s the optional outdoor galley where the chef can stand and cook outside on the plancha grill and still not miss any of the happy hour festivities in the cockpit. There’s also the standard centerline table that can hold an optional refrigerator, or it can be removed entirely on the performance version. But there’s a fun new feature here too in the form of an optional sunbed between the wheels. It’s the place to lounge, because you’re in the center of the action but still out of the way and I immediately made it my own. It didn’t disappoint.

Accommodations
Below, there’s a choice of up to 6 cabins (plus a skipper cabin in the bow) and 2-4 heads which is a “pack ‘em in” version that charterers will love. However, our test boat was set up for proper owner cruising with the master in the bow and two cabins aft. That left an open, uncluttered saloon in the middle with a U-shaped dinette to port and an L-shaped lounge to starboard so there were two distinct spaces where to relax.

Spec'd CabinsUp to 6 cabins may be spec’d - some with split bunks to accommodate guests or kids.

Still present is Dufour’s signature split galley that slips in between the master stateroom and the saloon. Besides providing separation and privacy for the owners, there’s another reason why having the galley forward works well. It pushes the spacious saloon aft to the point of maximum beam. If you can resist loading this model up with extra cabins, you’ll even get an aft-facing nav desk and you’ll still feel like it’s a palace below. The overall fit and finish are quite up-market for a production boat and there are clever stowage details that Dufour is known for right down to the always-appreciated bottle locker.

The Master StateroomThe master stateroom has an ample bed with cushioned cutaway corners, his and hers overhead hatches, and a split head that maximizes space in this posh cabin.

Dufour seems to always offer good value and that holds true with this hybrid version as well. 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 the as-tested price was $550,000 US.

Test Time
Test day arrived with blustery winds of 15-20 knots which was perfect for a boat of this size. We glided along at 8.2 knots in 20 knots of true breeze at 50 degrees apparent wind angle. When we cracked off to 110 degrees, we kept up a speed of 6.5 in 16 knots of wind.

Standard auxiliary power is a 75 hp Yanmar diesel with a Saildrive but we had the upgraded 110 hp Volvo Penta engine with a straight shaft. At wide-open-throttle, we motored 8.2 knots and 3,000 rpm on flat water. A more realistic cruising speed is around seven knots and 2500 rpm.

The boat responds quickly from a standstill as the prop pushes water directly over the single rudder. A bow thruster will be welcome on this big boat to get in and out of tight spaces.

Conclusion
Big boats aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be and weighing down a performance hull with a cruising layout and loads of gear doesn’t really work. Other builders have tried this with their models ending up heavy and slow while others were tender and demanding and scared the wits out of cruising couples. Neither was true of the Dufour 530 that never left us feeling overwhelmed although we didn’t reef. She’s a thoroughbred but she’s not high-strung and that goes a long way to building confidence.

Drop Down TransomFor relaxing near the waterline or easily stepping up from the dinghy, the drop-down transom is a luxurious way to extend the outdoor living space.

The Dufour 530 replaces the wildly popular 520 and does that exceptionally well. She’s the first of Dufour’s nine models (31-61 feet) to launch with the hybrid treatment, If streamlining their offering while creating an immensely sailable boat was their goal, Dufour hit it out of the park. There’s no telling how these types of changes will impact the rest of the line but the 530 came out sailing like a witch while riding like a Cadillac.

 

 

 

 

Specifications
LOA: 53' 6"
Beam: 16’ 3"
Draft: 6’ 4” – 9’ 1”
Displacement: 39,184 lbs.
Sail Area: 1,345 sq. ft.
Fuel/Water: 116/179 gallons
Engine: 75 hp
Designer: Felci Yacht Design
Builder: Dufour Yachts, La Rochelle, France, dufour-yachts.com
Price: $550,000 as tested

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