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


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.


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.


  • 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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