By John Kerr
My European sailing editor colleagues are all a buzz about this boat. I was taken aback by a comment that referred to the 40E as sensitive and that term really hit the mark. Sensitive to the market needs, sensitive to the owner’s wants, and sensitive as it appeals to the racing performance of the boat.
When Dufour set the challenge to dazzle the market by building a product to reenter the North American scene, it had to come out with a boat that was better than the Dufour 40. Tough call, but the team at the Dufour Design group and Umberto Felci did not disappoint.
Adding to its already ‘sensitive’ reputation are words like finesse, precision and performance.
The T-shaped cockpit is well-proportioned. Twin steering stations with 36” inch wheels grace the aft part with a wonderful and easy traveller adjustment just forward of the wheels. The helmsman’s angled seat allows easy steering and trim with the Harken 46 outboard winches. The single backstay adjustment is also close at hand. I really like this set up. They have thought of everything including a really neat foot brace that can be removed to allow access to the table sockets for the cockpit table (when the need arises). The seating forward of the steering station is larger than one would expect and covers a functionally large storage locker below.
To starboard, the helm station boasts the engine controls for the Volvo 40 hp placed where they do not interfere. To port, there is a propane locker and jib furling control.
Aft, the fold-down swim platform is a neat touch. It has a built-in telescoping ladder that easily hides away and the 2:1 purchase lifting system makes raising it a breeze.
On the cabin top are two Harken 40 winches with control lines running aft on each side of the hatch. The controls lines include factory standard spinnaker controls and the expected stoppers. Around the hatch opening, there’s an inlay for the optional dodger.
Moving forward is easy with the great 19” wide side decks. The 25” tall, double-life lines and solid wooden handrails give you all the support you would ever need. The 7-foot genoa track is perfect for this performance boat allowing a wide range with easily adjustable genoa cars. Flush salon deck hatches are a nice touch and provide super natural lighting below.
One thing I love finally is the great recessed furler drum. I hate the look of that big clunker forward and this design gets it low and out of sight. More importantly, it allows for a better sail design forward, getting the foot nice and low.
The anodized, aluminum performance profiled mast with double swept back spreaders is stepped on the keel. The discontinuous standing rigging is a single strand, stainless-steel cable and Dyform, with chrome plated bronze turnbuckles. The running rigging in pre-stretched textile includes main and genoa halyards, boom topping lift, main and genoa halyards, reef lines and a furling line.
The anchor locker is well down and has a nice remote windlass control. There are extra pad eyes forward for foredeck crew when needed.
Below decks this boat is as exciting as it is above. Three options are available. The first impression you get is one of warmth brought about by the horizontal grained woodwork. Of course, the exquisite woodwork and finish is all one expects from Dufour and more. The additional detail of the white-coloured side panels is perfect. Integrated handrails throughout are practically placed. The starboard settee is large and wide (5’X 20”) and folds up for storage.
Forward of this is a well-placed shelf and cabinet. Right and aft is the navigation station which is functional and not overbearing (as has been the temptation of late in some designs). Typical is its easy access panel and pivoting seat and small drop storage space is standard. The space above accommodates the instruments array perfectly.
To port the elegant settee is very large measuring 6’4” in lengt;h wonderful self cabinets are above and the natural light is brought in by an additional pair of hull ports. Forward is a well done drop-in bottle cabinet. The designers have also added a neat, fold-down seat in front of the galley. The dinette table is a perfect size( again not overbearing) at 28”x 44” with a low hardwood fiddle trim and crumb hole making clean ups a snap. The table’s removable legs allow an easy conversion to a berth, when needed. There is an optional dinette table that I choose that folds over to reach the starboard side settee. It, too, easily folds for a berth conversion and has a shallow drawer on top with a bottle holder cupboard below.
To port, directly opposite the steps below the L-haped galley, graced by Corian countertops, there is more than enough room. The preparation area facing the salon allows a great set-up for entertaining and meal preparation. A nice glass divider (aka Slash Guard) is a great detail that helps define the relative spaces. Wonderful counter-level, sliding galley doors and three large drawers provide excellent storage as well as the three upper cabinets with gas support struts. The space allows for a two-burner, gimballed stove as well as both a dual opening ice box and a front opening icebox. The single sink is covered with a Corian cover insert. Natural lighting comes below courtesy of the two opening deck ports.
The aft head is a moulded fibreglass compartment; its black countertop is striking and the storage behind the mirror and under the sink more than adequate. There is an optional shower compartment that has a teak grate, moulded seat, adjustable shower head rail and provides access to the large cockpit locker.
The port side aft cabin has 6’5” standing head room and sitting headroom at the head of the berth. The berth is 6’8” long and fits perfectly with its sculpted shape (4’2” at the head, 2’6” at base). There is a long shelf on the hull side and a double cabinet/hanging locker with shelves. Opening deck hatches provide great ventilation (but get the optional screen) and the cabin lighting includes a reading light too!
The starboard side aft cabin boasts a berth one foot longer and a bit wider as well. Again a long shelf graces the hull wall while ventilation comes through the cockpit port. The same storage and lighting attributes are here too. Access to mechanicals is easy on both sides.
If you opt go for it, the starboard aft cabin can also be a storage room. It would be accessed from the shower compartment or the cockpit seat and has more than enough room for shelving, inflatable storage, or extra sail;s it could easily function as a small work place as well.
The forward cabin is bright and wide. The larger berth is complemented by shelves on each hull wall and the white hull interior treatment is a perfect fit. The fixed hull ports and larger screened hatch above provide the natural light. The small opening hatch and the larger one provide great ventilation. Lighting needs are perfectly addressed. To starboard the double cabinet has a hanging locker and shelf combination and the foot of the bed lifts for extra storage. There is a wonderful makeup table with mirror and sliding seat. Another nice hatch is above and even more storage surrounds the space as well.
One could opt for a forward head. Two heads are better than one they say and its design is a perfect complement to the standard one detailed earlier.
This boat’s many qualities speak for themselves; it’s a perfect elegant boat that can just as easily race as cruise and can just as easily excite as entertain. Dufour owners are fanatics, they are a cult unto their own globally and this boat will no doubt get a wonderful following and swell the ranks of happy Dufour owners in Canada and worldwide.