History of Dufour

Published: 04th August 2009
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Michel Dufour founded his company to build the Sylpie in 1965, but it was his second design, the Arpege from 1967, that established his reputation as an innovative designer and builder.



Today, the company builds cruiser-racers from 34ft to 45ft and 'pure' cruisers from 32ft to 50ft. Most of the hulls are designed by Umberto Felci and the interiors styled by Patrick Roseo.



Dufour T7 - One of the smallest centre-cockpit designs widely available, at 22ft. The T7 appeared in 1980 and sold 250 in two years. With two berths in the saloon and two in the aftercabin, reached via the cockpit, the T7 is popular as a family cruiser.



Dufour 27 - With very high freeboard and a window in the hull, this was a distinctive and popular cruiser from 1973. Most sales were in France. Under her semi-flush decks is 15ft 11in headroom and four berths in a very bare, GRP-dominated interior.



Dofour 1800 - Introduced in 1979 in succession to the Dufour 25, this 25-footer sold well - 200 boats were launched in three years of production, with a choice of lifting, shallow, standard or deep-fin keels. She is typical of the middle years of Dofour design: a full-bodied, high-volume hull topped by a square-looking coachroof.



Dufour 28 - A late model from Dufour's first incarnation, designed by Jaques Faroux, this is still a strikingly modern and good-looking yacht. Performance and handling are acceptable if she is kept upright, but she's not ideal for heavy-weather passage-making. She was remarkable for her time (1983) in having two aft cabins in an overall length of just 29ft.



Dufour 2800 - Successor to the 27 in 1978, this comfortable, docile family cruiser was the second most popular Dufour of all time: 1,300 were built over six years. At the time her looks were modern and refreshing - she effectively re-established Michel Dufour's reputation for forward thinking.



Dufour 30 Classic - Simplicity is the essence of this entry-level cruiser, launched in the late 1990s. She is quick under full canvas, easy to handle, close-winged and fairly well balanced to boot. The rig, which supports a fairly large mainsail and a small, non-overlapping jib, was rather lightly built for serious offshore work. The cockpit is well laid out, with all the essentials within easy reach of the helm - a bonus for short-handed sailing.



Dufour 31 - Another highly successful model, selling more than 900 from 1973 onwards, the most striking feature is her clipper bow. Like many Dufour yachts she was innovative for her time, with a spacious, six-berth interior (including a quarter berth and a dinette double) and a 1.9m headroom.



Dufour 32 Classic - The 32 Classic was launched in 1988 and quickly gained reputation as a comfortable cruising yacht and remained in production until 2004. The sailplan is moderate, with an overlapping genoa, giving good average performance under sail for a modern cruiser.



Dufour 3800 - This masthead-rigged fast cruiser was the replacement for the 31, launched in 1979 and designed by German Frers. Despite being an elegant boat with far less plastic interior and sparkling performance, sales were only moderate at 300.



Dufour 4800 - Launched in 1981, this 35 footer from Dufour was a substantially different creation to the company's earlier models. Looking very much like a grown-up 3800, she could accommodate up to nine people, maintaining the French tradition for maximum crew berths. She had, in effect, an early manifestation of an owner's suite, with the heads and double berth forward of the main bulkhead.



Dufour 34 - A sparkling performer which scooped the European Yacht of the Year award. This Umberto Felci design from 2002 sports a fine, deep iron keel and a slim but very deep rudder, set on a sleek hull that slips through the water with the minimum of fuss and effort.



Dufour 35 - Not Michel Dufour's most attractive creation, this flush-decked, beamy boat from 1972 nonetheless managed sales of 450, thanks largely to the enormous amount of space below desks and good performance under sail.



Dufour 35 Classic - Well-balanced and quick, the 35 Classic is one of the lightest cruisers in her class, displacing just 4.5 tons. But she's sturdy too - Dufour did not skimp on build quality. A combination of moderate freeboard, pleasing sheerline, low coachroof and reverse transom make her easy on the eye.





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