Richard Muscat Azzopardi took the same Dufour 405 Grand Large that was displayed at the HSBC Valletta Boat Show out for a sail a few days after the Boat Show was over. Here’s what he thought of it.
Testing a new Dufour is always an exciting moment – and even though I have been spoiled with the last new offering I tried (the bullet-fast 45 around a year ago), I still look forward to sailing off on any new yacht
built by the French Yard. Early in October I was lucky enough to try the first Dufour 405 Grand Large to be brought into Maltese waters. I was warned that the time frame for the trial was short because the boat had been sold immediately. When I saw her sailing into the harbour (since I was collected) I could understand immediately why she didn’t last longer than a couple of weeks to be snatched up.
Even though it is technically an out and out cruiser, the 405 Grand Large looks sleek enough to be considered a performance cruiser from the outside. On seeing this I ventured inside slightly apprehensively. I expected it to be a
compromise boat of sorts, however I was very pleasantly surprised to see that Dufour have worked miracles with
The version I tried was the more popular three-cabin / 2 heads version. When delivered with three cabins, the chart table is on the starboard as you step into the saloon, followed by the spacious and well equipped longitudinal galley along the same side, extended further as an L-shape by the top of a cavernous fridge compartment, accessible both frontally and from on top. The dining table is large enough to accommodate 6 to 8 people comfortably. I loved the fact that Dufour not only made sure that there are grab rails conveniently placed all over the cabin, but also hid these intelligently enough not to make them immediately obvious. What a casual visitor
might see as smart wooden trimmings will be appreciated as conveniently located grab rails by a sailor walking
through the cabin in rough weather.
Thanks to the ample beam on the Grand Large, the three cabins are spacious for a boat in this category. I was impressed by the fact that Dufour have managed to fit in an island bed in the owner’s cabin. They also listened to buyers’ comments and made the bed easy to climb into. Ample storage is offered beneath the bed and in a tall locker on the starboard.
Both heads have been laid out with users in mind – in some other yachts anyone slightly overweight might have problems manoeuvring while having a shower, however these seemed comfortable enough to allow you to have that extra portion of pasta if you feel like it. The aft heads in the tested version has a dedicated shower area, which can be fitted with a folding teak seat.
Dufour made sure that you never run out of space. Most floorboards open up to reveal cavernous lockers – one even offers a wine rack and is equipped with a hydraulic arm for comfortable access!
In addition, all sideboard cupboards have been fitted with hydraulic side arms for soft opening and with antiroll
Moving outside, the cockpit is claimed to be class leading in size and I had no reason to doubt it – it feels as if it belongs to a 45 foot yacht. The choice of having two wheels gives you complete control when sailing while
allowing easy access to the cockpit and bathing platform – which can be lowered conveniently using a pulley system even a child could operate. What’s more, the telescopic bathing ladder is neatly hidden inside the transom opening giving it a very clean aesthetic look.
Even though I’ve been discussing all the comforts the Dufour 405 offers, do not think for a moment that the French yard forgot to work on the core business at hand here – sailing. Once again the yard has managed to hit two birds with one stone. For example the conveniently placed winches just ahead of the wheels mean that sailing it shorthanded is possible – crucial in a boat which is targeting families.
The boat is no slouch either – it is well balanced and sails well even in the lightest of breezes. On the morning we took it out we had about 8 -12 knots of true wind – mild by any standard – however we were peaking out at 6 – 6.5 knots. This is very good indeed for a cruiser with no performance equipment fitted in. To be fair I was expecting the boat to perform well since its larger sister, the 455 Grand large, had really impressed me in the extended test I carried out earlier in the year.
Overall I really think that the Dufour 405 Grand Large is one of the Yard’s best proposals in recent years. They have impressed us on a regular basis with their larger boats, however the 405 is a yacht which brings something special to one of the most popular lengths. The 39 - 41 foot category is saturated and standing out is no mean feat. However I can honestly say that if you’re in the market for a boat this size you would be losing out if you do not have a look at it.