The comforts of home in a performance hull
Dufour in partnership with Felci Yacht Design wants nothing less than to optimize the sailing experience through design, performance and comfort. The Dufour 500 Grand Large provides space and amenities with style, efficiency and performance. This yacht is an embodiment of that objective.
Contemporary, sleek design is combined with innovative features using modern construction techniques, materials and components. The 500GL has a low profile and wide side decks. The plumb bow and full beam, carried well aft with a visible hard chine, are design features found on current racing profiles. The expansive drop transom is a feature shared with many modern cruisers along with twin wheels and a foldout sunbed in the cockpit. It’s the design innovations in the interior that sets the Dufour 500 Grand Large apart.
Like most 50-foot boats, there is a lot of room. In their description, Dufour describes the interior as both a main residence and a living space. Dufour very effectively optimizes interior light and air circulation though the abundant use of windows, opening hatches and LED lighting. There is a tremendous amount of storage space in the cupboards, lockers and in-floor storage. In this home away from home, you step into the large saloon with its abundant and comfortable seating area. The saloon table is adjustable in height and when the leaves are out, it could accommodate up to 12 (3 per side) for dinner. The ample chart table and seating to starboard can be angled for heeling and can be oriented either forward or rear facing. When rear facing the cart table is against an aft bulkhead and elongates the starboard settee. On our test boat a large flat screen TV was mounted on that bulkhead making it viewable from the saloon and galley. A chartplotter on a pivot, the VHF radio, a Bose stereo system and the electrical distribution panel are all part of the nav’ station.
At home your kitchen is not normally at your main entrance. Why is it that galleys are usually at the foot of the companionway? The galley in the 500 GL is forward of the saloon and aligned athwart ship at the foot of the deck-stepped mast. The galley features loads of storage space, Corian countertops, a 3 burner range / stove to port and generous twin stainless steel sinks with single lever faucet and a microwave to starboard. A built in Nespresso coffee maker is included to start your day in style. The fridge occupies almost the entire volume under the counter from the mast step to the port side and features both top and side access. The storage includes a crockery cupboard with customizable placement of dowels to hold your dishware securely. Lockers in the floor can be used for dry goods, pots and pans and larger items. The half-wall separating the galley from the saloon incorporates space used as a bar with storage for glasses and bottles. By positioning the galley across the boat forward of the saloon, the designers have very effectively separated the working area from the relaxation area, while maintain contact with your guests.
The test boat included an optional freezer in the aft end the C-shaped saloon settee. The remainder of the settee provided locker storage. The starboard settee accommodates a drawer for storage, rather than the typical lockers under the other cushion and behind back rests. There is again, a wine cell at the foot of the companionway and storage in upper level cupboards both port and starboard and in the centerline bench. The centerline bench adjusts left and right along tracks and has a retractable back bolster.
The forward cabin incorporates drawers under the queen size (200×160 cm) berth, one hanging locker and a second locker with shelves. As a result of the forward berth being set back from the bow, the berth is full width at its forward end. The ensuite forward head is divided into two compartments. The port side has a dedicated shower with an acrylic bi-fold door protecting the mirror, Corian countertop, sink and cabinetry. To starboard are the head and another wash basin.
Similarly at the foot of the companionway are a manual head and sink to starboard, and a shower and electric head to port. The aft cabins are aft of the companionway and tuck under the cockpit. These cabins are both large, due in part to the beam being carried fully aft with the chine. They include 200×165 cm berths, according to the spec sheet, slightly wider than in the master. Storage is in cubbies and a hanging locker in each cabin. Along with the saloon berth over the table, the 500GL comfortably sleeps 8 not including the single starboard settee. Multi zone air-conditioning keeps everyone comfortable when it gets too hot or muggy.
The cockpit is easily accessed from the dock across the exceptionally wide drop-transom which is electrically operated using a remote. Twin wheels keep the transom access clear, and provide good sight lines for the person at the helm. The primary winches on the stern quarters are at the helmsman’s hip. Combined with a double-ended mainsheet system and electric winches, the winch positions make this boat easily sailed solo, or shorthanded. Fold-out stern seating is available for the helm.
In the middle of the stern is a large podium whose lid opens to provide for a grill and a serving or prep table. The entire podium hinges up to reveal a very large lazarette extending below the cockpit, aft of the aft cabins. The mid-cockpit console teak table includes a sink, and a fridge. High wide coamings and wide cockpit benches with pads provide comfortable and abundant seating on two levels. The port bench hinges to create a sunbed for those comfortable lazy summer afternoons. In stronger conditions, that same sunbed hinges upward to create a leeboard, to keep you secure while lounging. At the companionway the cockpit floor incorporates a bin to accommodate halyards thereby keeping the area uncluttered.
That clean uncluttered functionality is continued on deck. Wide side decks provide easy access forward. On the foredeck there is no clutter. The Genoa has below deck furling. To the port bow there is a fold away anchor roller and anchor (no jousting if racing) and a chain locker. There is no spinnaker pole on deck, but a retractable sprit pole. There is a sail locker to the starboard bow, avoiding using the v-berth as sail storage. The main uses a boom bag and lazy jack system in which you can drop the sail until you are ready to tidy up. The low cabin profile and flush hatches keep the deck looking clean and sleek. All running rigging is led below deck to stoppers and winches near the aft of the coach roof. This leaves the coach roof clear except for the mid-boom traveller.
Getting off the dock was exceptionally easy. Retracting bow and stern thrusters got us clear of the dock and the optional 110HP Volvo Penta Saildrive with a 4 blade folding prop moved us handily. Underway the ride was quite and smooth. Our test sail conditions were light. Wind strength was 5 – 6 knots and wave conditions less than 1 foot. Boat speed under full sail was what you would expect in those conditions from a boat of this size. Tight on the wind approaching 30 degrees apparent, we made 4.2 knots. Cracked off to a reach was a very smooth at 5.2 knots. On a broad reach we were down to 2.9 knots. With the 9/10ths fractional rig and a 110% genoa, there is a huge advantage to having the optional gennaker or Code 0 flying from the bowsprit when sailing off the wind. Coming back to the dock, stern in was no issue for our skipper with the boat equipped with thrusters.
The 500 Grand Large, truly meets Dufour’s objective of a vessel that optimizes the sailing experience. The base boat landed cost ex. Port Credit, Ontario was $C 470,000. Our test boat included a wide variety of options. This boat has it all; style, innovation and performance in a boat that has size and the comforts of home.
Dufour 500 GL
Hull Length 48’5″
Disp 31,305 lbs
Draft (Shoal) 6’4″
Draft (Deep) 7’6″
Ballast (Shoal) 9,587 lbs
Ballast (Deep) 9,259 lbs
Mast Ht: Std / GP 70′ 2″ / 74’2″
Main Area Std/GP 560 / 624 Sq Ft
Genoa Std 516 Sq Ft
Total SA Std/GP 1,076 / 1,184 Sq Ft
Sail Area / Disp Ratio 17.33 / 19.07
Water 150 gal
Fuel 110 gal
Waste (Std) 10.8 gal x 2
CE Certification A-10
Price base: $470,000
Boat and price supplied by:
Dufour Yachts North America
Specifications and dimensions are approximate and are subject to change without notice.
Photo 1 – Style innovation and performance are the essential design criteria of Dufour’s 500 Grand Large.
Photo 2 – The fully equipped galley is forward of the saloon at the mast step and is oriented across the full width of the boat.
Photo 3 – The remotely operated transom provides easy access to the spacious cockpit.
Photos courtesy of Dufour Yachts.