Dufour 405 Grand’ Large Boat Review
Nothing lost in translation here: Dufour's new cruiser is a good French boat. Boat Review from our October 2011 issue.
You need but one quick glance at the lines of the 405 to appreciate the decidedly Euro flair to the topsides profile and layout. In contemporary yacht design, long gone are the days of angled overhangs and sweeping sheer lines. On the 405 (which actually measures in at a shade under 40 feet), with its nearly plumb stem and subtle reverse-transom stern, the idea is to maximize waterline length and interior volume in as attractive a platform as possible (see our complete photo gallery here).
To this end, designers Umberto Felci and Patrick Roséo have largely succeeded, thanks in no small part to the teak-like iroko hardwood employed generously in the deck, cockpit, toerails, handrails, and even on the drop-down swim platform that unfolds from the stern and is accessible via an opening between the opposing seats for the dual helms. The coachroof is low and unobtrusive, with a pair of long windows to port and starboard that tie together the overall aesthetics.
From a purely visual perspective, the one feature that seems disproportionate is the extremely high placement of the boom, the traveler for which is situated well forward, in front of the companionway hatch. Though our test boat didn’t include an optional dodger, an observer can surmise that the boom clearance was specified to include a wide, generously sized one; plus, from a safety standpoint, the boom, at that height, won’t be a hazard in uncontrolled jibes.
And while I understand the convenience of a split backstay in conjunction with an open transom (when the platform is deployed) to facilitate easy access, the downside is that the backstay’s two termination points, all the way aft to port and starboard, are somewhat of an impediment to the driver when he or she is perched outboard behind the windward wheel. For that reason, I found that steering from leeward was far more comfortable and provided a better view of the jib telltales.
Otherwise, I discovered a lot to like about the 405, which certainly feels—and sails—like a larger vessel. We tested the boat on a spotty Chesapeake Bay afternoon in 6 to 8 knots of fluky breeze, but thanks to the full-battened main and the tall, double-spreader fractional rig, once we got the boat in the groove, it slid nicely to weather, notching speeds of 5.5 to 5.9 knots.
The 405 is equipped with a 40-horsepower Volvo and saildrive (with a fixed, two-bladed prop) and trucked along nicely at 7.3 knots at 2,400 rpm, while stepping right up to 7.6 knots when we juiced it to 2,800 rpm. All lines, including the single-line reefing system, are led aft to a series of nine rope clutches, and the Harken winches and Lewmar adjustable sheet leads are first-class touches that made sail trimming a breeze. The central cockpit table is a small obstacle to sailhandling when you’re hopping to and fro, but the overall deck layout is smart and efficient and includes the Raymarine chart plotter, which is cleverly incorporated into the aft end of the table, a suite of Raymarine ST-70 instrument repeaters, the engine controls and readouts, and the autopilot controls, all within easy reach of the helm.