Every builder of every new boat has a target clientele in mind. Some seek long-term liveaboards; others want a dual-purpose boat aboard which they can race or cruise. With their latest offering, the Dufour 460 Grand Large, the decision-makers at the venerable French firm zeroed in with laser focus at precisely the type of sailor and owner they were searching for, and their aim — at first glance anyway — seems surprising. What Dufour wants is an experienced sailor who will use their boat primarily for coastal cruising — though the company added the tankage and strength for an occasional offshore passage — but with features and a layout that really heighten the social side of sailing. In other words, the sailing side of the equation is definitely important, but when the hook’s down and the day is done, you’d best be ready to party.
Only after spending a bit of time on the boat do you realize this makes perfect sense.
Dufour has done a couple of interesting things with the layout to facilitate the fun. First, in the main cabin, they have positioned the beam-width galley all the way forward, basically installing it as part of the athwartships bulkhead that delineates the saloon from the forward master stateroom. It really opens up the space for entertaining. Then, because who wouldn’t want a second, outdoor kitchen, they’ve added another pop-up galley in the aft end of the cockpit and incorporated into a helmsman’s seat, the “floor” of which is the drop-down transom. It’s complete with grill, sink and plenty of counter space for whipping up snacks and meals. Yes, this sounds kind of odd. In practice and execution, it’s the bee’s knees.
Having the necessary volume to achieve all this is vitally important, and the 460 has it in spades. Thanks to the hard chine that contributes to the boat’s impressive 14-foot-9-inch beam (which is carried well aft), and to its tall freeboard, the yacht seems even bigger than its 46 feet of overall length. Yet with its fixed standard sprit, long waterline and plumb bow, low-profile coach roof and the judicious addition of three horizontal windows in the hull, the 460 exudes contemporary good looks and appears proportionately sound. It’s almost like a magic trick.
Down below, the forward owner’s cabin features a whopping queen berth with side entries and a “split” head, with a large, dedicated shower stall to port and the toilet to starboard in its own compartment. In the saloon, aft of the unusually placed galley, to port there’s a small settee behind which is a wine rack or the space for a flat-screen TV. To starboard sits the dining table with seating on three sides. A convertible navigation station on a sliding track is situated aft of the outboard settee, and can be configured so the navigator sits facing forward or aft, depending on preference. It can also be raised or lowered to rest perpendicular if the boat is heeling underway. A second head is to port, and the floor plan is finished off with a pair of double cabins aft.
On deck, as with most modern yachts in this size range, there’s a set of twin wheels with instrumentation in the pedestals and a Raymarine chart plotter in clear view on the aft end of the central cockpit table. Life-raft stowage is under a step abaft the starboard wheel, and there are adjustable foot braces behind each helm so the driver has level footing when the boat is heeled. A double-ended German-style mainsheet is led to Lewmar winches to port and starboard of the helms; the traveler is forward of the dodger and controlled by winches on the coach roof, as are the halyards and reefing lines, which are led aft under on-deck panels.
The double-spreader fractional rig employs a self-tacking jib on its own track just forward of the deck-stepped mast (the compression post for the spar is in the forward owner’s cabin so it doesn’t hinder the open spaces in the saloon). An overlapping 135 percent genoa, the tracks for which are already installed, is an option. The shrouds are positioned well outboard for easy egress forward.
On the bow, the roller-furling unit is mounted in the center of the bowsprit, which has a robust pad eye all the way forward for tacking asymmetric kites or a Code Zero-type reaching sail. A Lewmar windlass is aft of the sprit and just forward of the good-size sail locker, which also provides easy access to the deep chain locker.
Construction is straightforward, with a hand-laid, solid-fiberglass hull and a one-piece deck that’s injection-molded. The price of the base boat is around $300,000, but our test boat — fully equipped with electric winches, a generator, air conditioning and electronics — topped off at a little over $400,000. Still, it’s a lot of boat for the bucks.
The 460 was designed by Umberto Felci, Dufour’s go-to naval architect, who has built his reputation on yachts that sail very well. We tested the boat in light airs of only 3 to 4 knots on a mellow Chesapeake Bay. Yet the performance was still impressive: The boat had little trouble sailing as fast as the wind on a closehauled course, making 3.5 knots in the lulls and 4.5 knots with slightly more pressure. The boat comes with a traditional mainsail and headsail, both from Elvstrom Sails. As the Dufour representative pointed out, it would’ve been a perfect day for a Code Zero headsail, which he recommended to augment the yacht’s working sails.
All in all, the rather innovative Dufour 460 impressed me. No, it’s not for everyone, especially if your plans include long-range liveaboard cruising. However, there’s no question that if what you’re after is a pleasurable ride for coastal jaunts and vacation sailing, and if having a blast once the day is done is a high priority, you’ll find much to like in this versatile 46-footer.
|LOA||46’5” (14.15 m)|
|LWL||41’1” (12.54 m)|
|Beam||14’4” (4.37 m)|
|Draft||7’2”/6’4” (2.20 m/1.95 m)|
|Sail Area||1,074 sq. ft. (99.8 sq. m)|
|Ballast||6,283 lb. (2,849 kg)|
|Displacement||23,722 lb. (10,760 kg)|
|Water||140 gal. (530 L)|
|Fuel||66 gal. (250 L)|
|Mast Height||63’1” (19.22 m)|
|Engine||55 hp Volvo diesel|
Herb McCormick is CW’s executive editor.