Dufour 405 Grand Large

Nothing lost in translation here: Dufour's new cruiser is a good French boat. Boat Review from our October 2011 issue.

October 10, 2011

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.


The hand-laminated fiberglass construction of the 405 is straightforward and time-tested, and it incorporates NPG gelcoat and resin for osmosis protection as well as a separate, internal grid laminated to the hull for structural integrity. A balsa core is employed in the infused polyester deck sandwich; the keel is cast iron bolted to a stainless-steel backing plate. The semi-elliptical rudder is fashioned from closed-cell foam and epoxy and is hung off a solid, stainless-steel post.


Down below, there are three accommodations plans from which to choose, all of which have a large owner’s cabin forward with a separate, attached head; a main saloon centered on a large, U-shaped settee and adjacent dining table; and a second head just aft of the settee. In all of the 405s, joinery work is mostly finished in maobi with other complementary hardwoods, which makes for a very handsome and inviting interior space. With seven deck hatches (with integrated “mushroom” vents) and a quartet of opening portlights, ventilation below is very good.

We inspected the model with the galley aft to starboard, just abaft a rather ingenious navigation station flanked by twin chairs, opposite the dining area. In no time flat, the table can be stashed away, a cushion can be inserted, and the seats transformed into one long settee. In this very versatile arrangement, a large and useful storage cabin is aft and to starboard (it can also be reached through the cockpit locker, and it has plenty of handy shelves), with a second double cabin aft to port.


Optionally, one can also specify a straight-line galley, to port or starboard, opposing the settee and dining area. In this layout, the more conventional nav station is aft of the galley, and the storage cabin is transformed into a second double berth.

Whichever way you go, there are lots of useful and thoughtful touches throughout. In the galley, for example, the cook will enjoy the spacious Corian counters, the large refrigerator that can be accessed via a small front door or a large, top-loading hatch, and the oodles of drawers and storage, including the dedicated “wine cellar.”

Wine cellar?


Well, we did mention that this was a good French boat. And French sailors, naturally, have their priorités firmly in order.

LOA 39′ 9″ (12.1 m.)
LWL 39′ 0″ (11.9 m.)
Beam 13′ 0″ (3.9 m.)
Draft (shoal) 5′ 7″ (1.7 m.)
(deep) 6′ 6″ (2.0 m.)
Sail Area 881 sq. ft. (81.9 sq. m.)
Ballast 5,150 lb. (2,336 kg.)
Displacement 19,819 lb. (8,990 kg.)
Ballast/D .26
D/L 208
SA/D 19.2
Water 100 gal. (380 l.)
Fuel 53 gal. (200 l.)
Holding 24 gal. (90.8 l.)
Mast Height 55′ 7″ (16.9 m.)
Engine 40-hp. diesel
Designers Umberto Felci and Patrick Roséo
Sailaway Price $249,000
Dufour Yachts
(352) 871-0362

Herb McCormick is CW‘s senior editor.


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