Dufour 375 Grand’ Large Boat Review
According to CW's Tim Murphy, the Dufour 375 Grand’ Large is fun to sail and comfortable. Boat Review from our October 2011 issue.
The smaller of Dufour’s new offerings is a midsize cruising boat whose sweetest charms, I discovered (as a member of the 2011 CW Boat of the Year judging panel), come to life under sail. I sailed the 375 on Chesapeake Bay last fall in a gentle southwesterly of 8 to 10 knots, where we posted boat speeds in the high 5s. One of the first things we noticed while under way was how responsive and balanced the twin helms felt, both under power and under sail. “The helm was fantastic,” said BOTY judge Beth Leonard. In fact, in the entire fleet of two dozen new boats introduced for 2011, we ranked this boat’s steering in the top five.
Drawing any boat under 40 feet, the designer must wrestle with the challenges of fitting necessary components around the relatively fixed dimensions of the human form. In the Dufour 375, especially on deck, Umberto Felci solved some of these puzzles emphatically well; belowdecks, less so. In the “Yes!” column, BOTY judge Ed Sherman loved the way the designer handled the split backstay. Two separate stays run from the masthead to the boat’s shoulders, outboard of the helm seat and just forward of the transom. This configuration leaves the walk-through transom open and avoids putting the helmsman into the neck-tweaking contortions imposed by other boats in this size range (see the complete photo gallery here).
Down below, we saw mixed results to the design puzzle. For example, the main saloon features an L-shaped dinette to port. The forward end of it uses the main bulkhead for a backrest, but clearance between the mast’s compression post and the table is a tough squeeze for any adult. And the forward cabin features an innovative fore-and-aft berth along the port side that’s much nicer than the V-berths you’ll find in other boats of this size. One of the “tests” I submitted every boat to was sitting up in bed as if to read a book—you’d be surprised how few boats will comfortably allow this simple act. The forward double berth of the 375 offers a perfect spot, letting a reader face forward and use the bulkhead as a backrest. Unfortunately, though, it only works for one person, as a shelf along the hull cuts into the berth’s outboard space.
I was pleased to see Dufour’s attention to at-sea ventilation in the cabin, with two solar vents in the overhead hatches and two clamshell scoops in the cabin top. My colleagues, though, worried that the deck-level installation of the scoops could be difficult to seal in a seaway and that the plastic material might not hold up under time and use.