Dufour Grand Large 500: Revolution, Not Evolution

Innovation and changes in design set the Dufour Grand Large 500 apart from other sailing yachts in this size range.

26th September 2013.
By Zuzana Prochazka

I enjoyed seeing the DuFour Grand Large 405 when it was launched a couple of years ago, but my first introduction to the Dufour Grand Large 500 was even better–because at the time, this boat was just a compilation of lines and thoughts on a piece of paper. Today, the new flagship of this French builder’s cruising line is real, and it’s impressive for the sheer number of innovative features it packs into a cruising yacht.

dufour grand large 50 under sail

The Dufour Grand Large 500 was designed to “redistribute” the available space aboard.

The Grand Large 500’s profile is low with a plumb bow and a hard chine visible in the aft sections. The deck is nearly flush with myriad hatches and one large, single-piece window just aft of the mast and over the galley and saloon below. It brings in tons of light while the double hatches also provide air flow.

The bow hides a recessed anchor locker with a pivoting anchor roller, which supports a large Delta anchor that stows until it’s time to deploy it. With the help of the spinnaker halyard, the anchor is lifted out and over the stem and then managed by the windlass which shares the same below-decks space. To starboard is an opening sail locker with a clear hatch and room below for the retractable thruster installation. It’s an ideal place to store the optional asymmetrical spinnaker, which attaches to the retractable carbon sprit. The 9/10 fractional rig includes two choices of deck-stepped mast (standard and tall) with two sets of aft-swept spreaders. The battened mainsail has two reef points and the headsail is on a below-decks furler.

The other end of the boat is just as interesting. Dufour divides their cockpit into “maneuvering” and “comfort” zones. The forward section of the cockpit is designed for relaxation and includes two settees with the one to port converting into a wide sunpad. The drop-leaf table that separates the two sides has a 12V light attachment, a sink with hot and cold fresh water, and an optional reefer. The cockpit sole just aft of the hinged companionway doors hides clever halyard bins, so the entryway remains clutter-free even under way.

The working section of the cockpit includes twin helm stations, each with a multifunction display and one set of engine controls to starboard. The primaries as well as the spinnaker winches are easily accessible from either helm. The real star here is the central “tower” which serves multiple purposes. First, it’s an aft seat which is out of the way of either helmsperson. It holds speakers and a freshwater shower, and lifts to provide access to a machinery space that includes the generator and AC/heating unit. The lid lifts up and to port revealing an optional grill. With the support of a handrail, the top (now upside down) provides a great working/serving table to the side. You can stand on the swim-step and cook without heating up the inside of the boat or cramping anyone else in the cockpit.

dufour 50 cabin

The interior is no less groundbreaking than the exterior.

The basic floor plan for the 500 offers a choice of three or four cabins and two or three en-suite heads. I would guess that most of the hulls will be fitted with the sumptuous master forward with its split head to starboard and shower compartment to port. The island berth has drawer stowage below and numerous hatches over the berth so nobody feels claustrophobic.

Specifications
Length 48’11″
Beam 15’8″
Draft (Shoal/Deep) 6’4″/7’6″
Main Sail Area 100.8m2
Displacement 33,610 lbs
Fuel capacity 132 gal.
Water capacity 174 gal.

The galley is split and runs athwartships just aft of the master head. To port is the stove and reefer with a built-in spice rack and drop-out cutlery bins. A clever feature is a built-in coffee maker that swings out to reveal tiny cubbies designed to hold tubs of coffee flavorings. To starboard are twin sinks and lots of countertop space. The great feature of this galley is that multiple people can assist in meal preparation without getting in each other’s way. The odd thing is that the sink is so far from the stove and fridge.

Aft is an enormous saloon with a U-shaped settee and convertible table to port, and a straight settee to starboard. At its end there’s a dedicated nav station that can face either forward or aft because it slides on rails. Both the desk and the seat also hinge to provide a comfortable workstation on either tack.

Two guest cabins, each with a head/shower combination, round out the aft end of the boat. The interior finish is Maobi veneer and solid wood.

Tankage is excellent, as it should be on a luxury yacht of this size, with 174 gallons of water in three tanks and 132 gallons of fuel in two tanks. The house battery bank is 560 ah with a separate starting battery. Auxiliary power is provided by a 75 hp Volvo Penta diesel which is upgradable to 110 hp.

I look forward to sailing this exceptionally clever yacht. If it moves as well as it accommodates its occupants, it’s sure to be a game-changing winner.

Other boats to consider: The Hanse 545 is a bit larger, and adds a healthy dash of German engineering. Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey 509 is another French build, which includes a number of clever design traits.

For more information, visit Dufour Yachts.


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About the author:

Zuzana Prochazka

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Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.
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