A detailed inspection of the design, layout and construction of Dufour’s two new catamarans, and our subsequent sail test, convinced all of the Boat Of The Year judges that both are superbly executed and, further, that the Nautitech 435 deserved to become Cruising World’s 1997 multihull of the year.
The accommodation configuration for both models is similar, with galley, nav station and saloon on the bridge deck level. The galley is compact and efficient, though perhaps a little small for hosting a large company at anchor, but the sturdy saloon table is ample enough to serve a full complement of guests. To the all-round saloon view, Nautitech adds forward-facing opening ports that provide very good cross ventilation. All cabins provide standing headroom and good light and ventilation from several deck hatches in each hull, and all are tastefully finished without excessive wood veneer.
Adequately sound-insulated spaces contain twin Volvo Penta engines with Sail Drives and two-bladed folding props, accessible from deck hatches. Under power, both models maneuvered easily.
Dufour has succeeded better than most at providing standing headroom in the saloon and adequate underwing clearance without creating a Winnebago profile. A fiberglass canopy partially protruding over the cockpit lends the cockpit shade without a vulnerable canvas dodger, and it streamlines the boat’s profile.
Those who enjoy sailing will appreciate the outboard, twin Whitlock rack-and-pinion steering stations, though some will also want dual engine controls to facilitate docking on either side.
A walkway between the stations is a nice safety feature. Good lifelines and bow-and-stern jack-line anchoring points are provided, though I would prefer the jack lines farther inboard. Escape hatches, which one hopes never to use but are essential to ultimate multihull safety, are provided in each hull. Attention to safety includes life raft stowage on the aft cross beam. If on deck, the raft would be submerged were the boat to capsize, and if kept under the wing, it could suffer undetected damage while sailing normally.
Hulls and deck are vacuum-bagged sandwiches of non-woven bidirectional and tri-directional cloth in isophthalic resin over closed-cell PVC foam. Epoxy-laminated marine plywood bulkheads include crash bulkheads in both bows. The forepeaks are foam-filled. Fin keels built independently of the hulls reduce the risk of serious hull damage in a grounding situation. A solid-wood rub rail protects each hull.
The fractional aluminum rig is stepped immediately ahead of the forward saloon windows at deck level on a horizontal surface with halyard lockers — an efficient working platform that is more secure than a mast stepped on a curved coach roof. A full-length traveler spans the beam aft of the cockpit. Roller-furling headsails and fully battened mainsails with lazy jacks vastly improve the performance of both models compared to those with roller-furling mainsails. The judges were impressed with how well the Nautitechs sailed relative to the competing multihulls in their class, and to monohulls of similar length.
Both the Nautitech 395 and 435 are thoughtfully designed, well-constructed, competitively priced and a pleasure to sail. Both are capable of trans-oceanic passages and equally suitable for “hanging out” in the lagoon of your dreams.
Dufour Nautitech 435 / 395 Specifications:
* LOA: 43’5″ (13.23 m.) / 39’4″ (11.99 m.)
* LWL: 40’3″ (12.27 m.) / 37’1″ (11.30 m.)
* vBeam (max): 21’8″ (6.60 m.); 50% LOA / 21’0″ (6.40 m.); 53% LOA
* Draft 4’0″ (1.22 m.) / 4’0″ (1.22 m.)
* Disp (light): 16,500 lbs. (7,484 kgs.) / 14,500 lbs. (6,577 kgs.)
* Sail area: 900 sq.ft. (83.61 sq.m.) / 800 sq.ft. (74.3 sq.m.)
* Mast above water: 54’6″ (16.61 m.) / 49’3″ (15.0 m.)
* Length/Beam (hulls): N/A / 10.3:1
* Underwing clearance: 2’7″ (0.79 m.); 6% LOA / 2’5″ (0.74 m.); 6% LOA
* Cabin Headroom: 6’4″ (1.93 m.) / 6’3″ (1.19 m.)
* Disp/Length: 113 / 127
* SA/Disp: 22.2; Bruce #: 1.18 / 21.5; Bruce #1:16
* Fuel: 73 gal. (276 ltr.) / 54 gal. (204 ltr.)
* Water: 200 gal. (757 ltr.) / 110 gal. (416 ltr.)
* Holding: 4 x 10 gal. (4 x 38 ltr.) / 2 x 10 gal. (2 x 38 ltr.)
* Auxiliary: 2 x 30-hp Volvo Penta / 2 x 20-hp. Volvo Penta
* Designer: Mortain & Mavrikios / Mortain & Mavrikios
* Base price: $279,911 / $234,833
Dufour Yachts USA
1 Chelsea Court
Annapolis, MD 21403