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Dufour 40 Performance+: 2009 Best Midsize Cruiser

On-the-water performance and quality construction made this French-built cruiser a judges' favorite.

December 13, 2008

Dufour40st

Billy Black

The entries in the Midsize Cruiser category-production sailboats between 40 and 45 feet-typically attract the most attention in today’s new-boat market. They’re big enough to take a crew on an extended sail, say to the islands and back, but they’re still of a length that’s manageable for a couple, and they carry aboard many of the comforts found at home. The 2009 winner in this category, the Dufour 40 Performance+, serves up plenty in the way of dockside amenities, and these are coupled with the boat’s ability to turn in a good performance on the water, whether the skipper’s intention is fast passagemaking or bringing home round-the-buoy honors.

The Perfomance+ sits atop a line of French-built, Umberto Felci/Patrick Roseo-designed 40-footers that range from the pure cruiser to the thoroughbred-styled sailboat we saw in Annapolis. Below, the Dufour 40, 40 Performance, and 40 Performance+ share a common interior that comes in either a two- or three-cabin layout with either one or two heads. Joinery and paneling is rich, dark moabi mahogany, and all of the boats carry an L-shaped galley to port, with a large table forward that’s surrounded by U-shaped seating and a settee opposite.

It’s outside where you’ll notice the difference between the Performance+ and the boat’s tamer sister ships.

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The skipper’s seat that usually spans the transom has been removed, and extra winches are mounted on the cockpit coamings to control downwind sails and to trim the double-ended, German-style mainsheet. Construction of the hull and deck has been monitored to control weight, and these structures have been reinforced to handle the increased loads of the beefed-up, rod-rigged Sparcraft mast that carries a full-batten main and changeable headsails that can be set on a Facnor furler. Even some through-hulls have been raised high up on the topsides to reduce drag through the water.

In about 8 knots of breeze, we sailed closehauled at 6.6 knots. This performance, coupled with the quality of the boat’s construction, convinced the judges that the Dufour 40 Performance+ was this year’s Best Midsize Cruiser.

JUDGES’ NOTES

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  • On the Dufour 40 Performance+, a mainsheet traveler sits just forward of the 5.5-foot-wide wheel.
  • Double-sheet winches sit atop the cabin.
  • The locker doors below are vented.

To access CW’s complete 2009 Sailboat Show and Boat of the Year contest coverage, click here.

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