Tested: Tofinou 8
Form meets function and then some in this gorgeous design
One of the new generation of small boats coming out of Europe, aboard which aesthetics are as important as performance, the Tofinou 8 is also packed with interesting features that allow you to do a lot more than just go for a spin around the harbor. Like it’s big brother, the Tofinou 9.5, the Joubert and Nivelt-designed also features a look that is modern, without being overly edgy: think a pocket Wally design, with a little bit of old-fashioned New England-style elegance.
First and foremost, he boat is equipped with a high-aspect, cast-iron swing keel that is deployed and retrieved via cleverly engineered hydraulics. (An electrical keel-control system is available as an option.) From a performance standpoint, the heavy cast-iron fin makes the boat feel that much more secure under sail, ensuring your nonsailing friends will enjoy themselves, even when the wind picks up. It also means not only being able to explore thin water, but being able to run the boat up on shore for a little beach combing. A 5ft 6in fixed keel with in impressive-looking ballast bulb, is also available for those interested in maximizing performance.
Topside, the expansive, self-draining cockpit and foredeck are absolutely awash in teak, with mahogany coamings and cabin sides on the cuddy adding yet more elegance. (The mahogany is easily removable for maintenance.) There is a dedicated helm station aft, with sail controls led to a pair of winches and batteries of clutches mounted on a kind of molded in partition. The mainsheet runs from the end of the boom to traveler, which arches over the tiller and separates the cockpit to a small aft deck than includes storage underneath. Access to the small auxiliary is through the cabin sole, and excellent for a boat this size—a nice touch.
The top of the cuddy is hinged and includes a pair of gas struts to hold it up, opening up access via the companionway to a small, but cozy cabin space. Among the features there are a compact V-berth forward, a pair of settee benches and room for a chemical toilet. Not a bad place to get in out of the rain.
The mast and boom on the 7/8 rig are aluminum; the retractable bowsprit is carbon (A carbon mast is also available as an option). The hull and cored deck are hand-laid E-glass, with a series of frames and stringers providing additional stiffness in the hull. Workmanship throughout is nothing less than spectacular. The Tofinou 8 is as much a work of art as it is a sailboat.
Under sail, the Tofinou 8 is surprisingly nimble given the somewhat stubby rudder required by its pivoting keel. Short tacking to windward, I had to be careful not to over-steer as we came about in flat seas and about 10 knots of true wind—logging 5-plus knots at a 40 degree apparent wind angle. Deploying the “prodder” and hoisting the kite, our speed immediately jumped to 7-8 knots. Even more important than our boatspeed, though, was the feel of the boat is rushed through the water. Even in the puffs, the helm and heel angle felt comfortingly predictable. No unexpected rounding up aboard the Tofinou 8. At all times he behavior was as refined, elegant and satisfying as her looks. By any standard, the Tofinou8 is quite a boat!
LOA 26ft 2in
LWL 22ft 11in
BEAM 8ft 3in
DRAFT 2ft 10in (keel up); 6ft 2in (keel down)
SAIL AREA 377 ft²
FUEL/WATER (GAL) 6/12
ENGINE 9hp Yanmar
BUILDER Latitude 46, Ile de Re, France, classic-boats.com
U.S. AGENT R.B. Rodgers Yacht Sales, Noank, CT, rodgersyachtsales.com
BALLAST RATIO 38
SAIL AREA-DISPLACEMENT RATIO 24
DISPLACEMENT-LENGTH RATIO 152