Best Boats 2014: Dufour Grand Large 500
The latest installment in Dufour’s well-established Grand Large line, the new 500 doesn’t just carry on the Grand Large tradition of good looks and performance, but also breaks new ground in terms of accommodations to create an even more luxurious experience afloat.
Central to the boat’s new approach is an athwartships galley just aft of the forepeak cabin, which opens up the rest of the saloon in a way that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Gone are the days of people having to shinny past one another as they pass through the bottleneck created by the nav station, galley and head all packed in around the companionway.
For those worried about having to carry drinks and treats the length of the saloon to the cockpit, never fear. Thanks to a sink and optional fridge in the cockpit table and an optional grill in a fixed centerline seat forward of the massive drop-down swim platform, what was once purely a lounging space, can now truly serve as party central.
On a saltier, more practical note, the boat’s well-configured helm stations, user-friendly rig and easily driven hull (with chines and a large single rudder to keep the boat on track in the puffs) make for a spirited, stress-free ride. Wide side decks, a belowdeck headsail furler and an optional retractable sprit for flying a reaching sail, give further evidence of the Grand Large 500’s performance potential.
Construction quality is excellent, both topside and belowdecks, and there are clever touches throughout—including a sliding nav station and centerline bench for transforming the saloon from a lounging center to a seagoing space and back—all in the interest of ensuring a fun and comfortable time afloat.
While it was undoubtedly taking a risk to put the galley where it is on this boat, the overall result of the new Dufour approach is an innovative new design that is sure to make waves throughout the industry. If the response from sailing community thus far is any indication, expect to see a lot more of this kind of layout in the future.