Dufour 525: 2009 Best Full-Size Cruiser

This decked-out cruiser features a teak-covered lounging area, transom garage, and roomy cockpit.

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Billy Black

Though they'd need to debrief and discuss the other new 49- to 54-foot production boats entered in BOTY's Full-Size Cruiser category, one thing seemed certain as the judges walked down the dock and headed home in the late-afternoon October sun: The Dufour 525 they'd just left was a heck of a lot of fun to sail.

The 525 is the queen of Dufour's Grand' Large series, all of which are designed by Umberto Felci/Patrick Roseo and aimed at the cruising sailor in search of something a little fancier and more performance oriented. On this boat, that translates into a wide, teak-covered lounging area on the aft deck; a transom garage that opens for life-raft or dinghy storage; a roomy cockpit that can handle a crowd; a broad, low-profile coach roof; and an elegant uncluttered, teak-covered foredeck that ends with a Facnor furler, a bow roller, and a retractable sprit for an off-the-wind sail. As with the other 50-footers they sailed, the judges felt that the 525, with a few offshore modifications and extra gear, could soon be ready to sail anywhere.

Below, the horizontal moabi paneling and Wenge trim, set off by white upholstery and ceiling panels, create a pleasing atmosphere. Overall, the decor has an Asian flair to it, and it graces a saloon sized and outfitted for entertaining. The boat comes in three- and four-cabin layouts; the one we sailed featured a large owner's stateroom and head forward; two double cabins were located aft. Given the scale of the boat, these aft cabins are generous, with standing headroom for even the tallest guest.

When my turn came to sail, I sat to leeward at one of the twin wheels. Just behind me was a winch for the German-style double-ended mainsheet; just ahead was a winch for the genoa sheet. Set up like this, the 525 is easily managed by a singlehander. Sailing closehauled in 8 to 10 knots of breeze, we loped along at an effortless 6.6 knots. Easing sheets slightly, we picked up the pace, pushed along by a full-batten main and overlapping jib. It didn't take long before I was ready to agree that the Dufour 525 was indeed the Best Full-Size Cruiser of 2009.

Judges' Notes

  • A forward crew cabin awaits a captain or an independent crewmember.
  • All sail-control lines run aft, below the low-profile cabin top.
  • Good storage areas abound on deck and below, plus fiddles that work.

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