Skip to main content

Dufour 455

Forty years ago Michel Dufour dragged boatbuilding into the industrial age by being one of the first to design boats specifically for production building methods. The company came out of some recent financial troubles and launched a “new era” in 2003. Since then two parallel but carefully matched lines of cruising boats have been introduced.One is a group of performance
Dufour455

Forty years ago Michel Dufour dragged boatbuilding into the industrial age by being one of the first to design boats specifically for production building methods. The company came out of some recent financial troubles and launched a “new era” in 2003. Since then two parallel but carefully matched lines of cruising boats have been introduced.

One is a group of performance cruisers capable of holding their own on the racecourse; the other consists of spacious boats aimed at family sailing and offshore cruising. The flagship of the cruising group is the new Dufour 455, and the 36-foot 365 is due to be launched this fall. We had a brief sail aboard the prototype 455 at its launch in Majorca, Spain.
Italian naval architect Umberto Felci has drawn a hull with full ends, a deep body, and exceptionally shallow bow sections. The first 2 or 3 feet of the bow are carried clear of the water when the boat is at rest, not immersing until the boat is heeled and making over 4 knots. As a result, it pounded a bit in light air and chop.
We began with a beat into a gentle breeze of around 8 knots. The helmsman has a commanding position behind the twin wheels with the genoa-sheet winches in easy reach—ideal for shorthanded sailing. There is plenty of space for a crew of six in the forward half of the large cockpit. The mainsheet is led to winches on the coachroof, so, in the absence of an autopilot, two people are needed to manage the boat at sea.

Hard on the wind in 12 knots of breeze, the 455 made 4.5 knots, but it came alive as the wind built. By the time it had risen to 14 knots (up to 20 knots apparent), we were storming along in fine style making nearly 7 knots with gentle pressure in the wheel. The boat responded accurately to the helm, although the linkage between the two wheels reduced feedback from the rudder. Keeping it at an optimum angle to the wind was easy, and the helmsman had a good view of the genoa luff from both wheels. It stood up to its sail area and showed no signs of needing a reef in 20 knots apparent. Off the wind it was powerful and well balanced, making up to 8 knots on a close reach.

In cruising terms the 455 is fast and stable on all points of sail in mid-range wind speeds. It has good manners and is easily handled by a small crew, though there is a temptation to use the genoa winches while facing away from the sail because they are so far aft. It was interesting to note that, as soon as the boat got going properly, the pounding disappeared and it tended to steer a much straighter course.

Belowdecks, there is a choice of one or two aft cabins. In both cases generous headroom and plenty of open space create a pleasant living environment, particularly when in harbor. Stowage is generally adequate, and the longitudinal galley works well. The owner’s suite is forward and should prove very comfortable. The joinery is veneered with maobi, a light, mahogany-like wood, which gives a warm but not oppressive atmosphere. The furniture is neatly put together, and the standard of finish is generally high. Dufour has used resin-infusion techniques for building the deck, which, together with an inner reinforcing molding fully laminated to the hull, creates a strong, stiff, yet light structure.

We were impressed by this boat as a sound all-rounder with good cruising performance, particularly in a decent breeze, and a comfortable, well-designed interior.

Contact: Dufour Yachts USA, 410-268-6417, www.dufouryachts.com

Price

$335,000 (base, FOB Annapolis, MD)

LOA

45'1"

LWL

44'1"

Beam

14'1"

Draft

6'6"

Displ.

24,251 lbs

Sail area (standard)

1080 sq ft

Power

55-hp Volvo diesel

Related

01-LEAD-18-Running-before-strong-winds-en-route-to-Molokai

Cruising: Hawaiian Island Hop

We didn’t get off on the right foot sailing into Hawaii. It was our own fault, of course. We should have known better. It’s never a good idea to assume that just because procedures were a certain way one year, they will be the same the next. It was an especially bad idea given ...read more

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more

00LEAD-IMG_2183

Heavy Hitters on Heavy Weather

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.” Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration in ...read more