Dufour 530 Augmented DNA
We first discovered her in her royal blue livery at the world premiere at Boot Düsseldorf 2020. We found her in immaculate white, even more chic, at the Port of La Rochelle. Heir to a centuries-old tradition of elegant, high-performance boats designed for offshore sailing, the Dufour 530 innovates by combining the Grand Large and Performance ranges in a single vision. Already privileged to go on board, if the sensations under sail are equal to the elegance of the lines, then sailing will be a pleasure to share. Immediate boarding.
By convention, the world of Superyachts begins at 24m. It seems, however, that Umberto Felci’s firm has made an exception by designing the Dufour 530. Between the subtle upper chine revealing the line of the hull portholes and the lower chine revealing the swift character of the hull, the topsides are light. They envelop an impressive interior with perfect proportions. The coachroof is all the finer and more elegant, whichever version is chosen: the Easy, designed for professional use with up to 6 cabins; the Ocean – the one we tested – dedicated to private owners and blue water cruising; and finally the Performance version with enhanced deck layout, lead keel and rig (20m² more), that will seduce the most demanding sailors.
Once on board, the solid bulwark offers a reassuring foothold in all conditions. In port and at sea, the magnificent work carried out on the teak deck will never tire of satisfying the eye of the aesthete. Access to the cockpit from the side decks is very easy thanks to the cleverly designed space between the helm and the bench-seats. The step on the port side, for moving from one level to the other, integrates the shore-power socket and its cable: too rare an attention for us to ignore. The central aft locker has become a must in the Dufour range and we find nothing but benefits with this. It is at the same time a vast storage space, a comfortable seat and a life-saving footrest on a boat whose 4.99 midships beam extends a long way aft. What’s more, this central feature creates a natural extension that houses a real outdoor galley to be used from the bathing platform. This is as user-friendly as it is practical, with a plancha grill and a sink. The open transom offers you your own private beach. Once closed, the Dufour 530 regains the timeless elegance of a classic yacht, with the telescopic davits having the ingenious idea of completely disappearing when they’re not in use supporting the tender.
Sunshine, 15 knots of west-northwesterly wind, smooth to slight sea state – the conditions are ideal for our test in the waters off La Rochelle. There are only two of us on board but, with the benefit of a deck layout perfectly designed for sailing short-handed, all manoeuvres prove to be perfectly fluid. Forward and aft thrusters, rudder in the axis of the propeller, leaving and coming back to port, even though it is very crowded marina, is a formality. As for the sail plan, it can be fully controlled from the cockpit, which is normally protected by the very large sprayhood canopy. The solent with low overlap can be tacked without batting an eyelid. It will be used in up to more than twenty knots of wind, without needing to be furled, and therefore in the best possible conditions. In light airs, an extremely high-performance Code Zero will prove to be a real turbo for the boat. A very coherent choice, ideally complemented by a spinnaker or gennaker for downwind sailing. A sail plan optimised for the IRC rating for the racing rules, and appendages that have been very carefully designed by Umberto Felci, a true racing sailor at heart, will put a smile on the face of anyone who is lucky enough to be able to take one of the two beautiful composite steering wheels in hand. The sensations, as direct as they are subtle, sent back from the slender rudder, are a delight for any sailing enthusiast. Perfectly positioned thanks to the lift-up footbraces, you will be able to focus all your attention on the telltales. Even at just 30 degrees to the apparent wind, the proud yacht is already making 7.5 knots, without paying any more attention to the adjustments than the average yachtsman out cruising.
So let’s get the autopilot to take over and we’ll go and discover the interior. Four perfectly curved steps down, you enter an interior that is both warm and bright. Woodwork in blond oak with a chic and sober design, mottled grey upholstery, leather inserts, luminous switches and screen-printed stainless-steel are all the details suggesting the standards of a larger boat. Light enters through the numerous portholes, right into the forward cabin with its L-shaped windows, without which a Dufour wouldn’t be a Dufour at all. With a width of almost 5 metres and headroom that only drops
below 2 metres in the aft cabins, the volume is impressive. The layout is faithful to the ideas successfully developed for the rest of the range, starting with a full-width galley, positioned quite forward, almost beneath the mast. It has generous dimensions, but two details caught our attention.
1 – Practical: the refrigerators positioned fore and aft won’t be a problem to open even when the boat is heeling nicely.
2 – Class: the swivelling storage for the Nespresso coffee maker, which disappears in its housing when under way. The saloon-dining-chart table area occupies the widest part of the boat. In the three-cabin version, the forward cabin is of course the centrepiece with the volume of a master suite. Its shower room can be split into two, with a toilet on one side and a large shower on the other, both compartments being equipped with washbasin – very practical. Situated behind the sail locker (potentially convertible into a skipper’s cabin) and surmounted by a headboard with plush upholstery, the owner’s berth is of “shore-dwelling” dimensions: between 140 and 180cm wide and 195cm long. At the stern, guests are also pampered, with generous double or twin berths and private bathrooms. With no less than 5 different layouts on offer, there is a Dufour 530 for every use you can envisage.
A real success:
The excellent impression left by the Dufour 530 is the result of a clever alchemy with multiple influences. The very serious and renowned French shipyard has brought to life the elegant lines sculpted by her Italian designer. As for the word “versatile”, it fits perfectly with the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the term: a combination of many qualities, the ability to be used for different purposes, to adapt to all conditions. As high-performance as she is comfortable, with meticulous attention to detail, seductive at first glance, and offering more volume than her length might lead one to believe, there is no doubt that this international pedigree will make the Dufour 530 a success in waters right around the world.