Designing a yacht as "living space" is the declared aim of the Grand Large range from the French Dufour yard, and aboard a big boat, such as the flagship of the fleet, the 560 GL, there are plenty of options and opportunities for creative thinking. But wrapping a decent hull shape around a voluminous cruising interior on a 33-footer is a different story altogether, yet the new 350 Grand Large, which replaces and builds on the previously successful 335, manages to do just that.

dufour grand large 350

Whether 35 or 55 feet long, Dufours have nice lines. Their sleek profiles and plumb bows make the hulls look fast and intimidating while the minimally reversed transoms drop down into a convenient swim platform.



 

On deck


The 9/10s fractional rig supports a total sail area of 55 square metres (592sq ft) with a 95-percent self-tacking jib. A traditional Elvstrom Dacron mainsail is standard and full battens are optional. The deck-stepped Selden tapered mast and boom are aluminium and the chainplates are outboard, so it’s relatively easy to move around on the side decks. There is no backstay.

With a large drop-leaf table taking over the centre of the cockpit, the twin helms open up the space nicely for easier movement between the companionway and the transom. A Raymarine chartplotter and engine controls are to starboard and an instrument display is to port. Both wheels have compasses, and both offer easy access to the primary Lewmar winches.

Two more winches are on the cabin top along with an array of sheet stoppers. There are also identical hatches on either side, outboard of the winches, which can be left open for good ventilation even in foul weather, since they’re tucked under the dodger. Two large lockers behind the wheels under the cockpit sole allow for stowing a liferaft to starboard and water toys to port. The aft seats hinge up when not in use, opening the transom for easier boarding and manoeuvring when racing.

The decks are fibreglass topped with non-skid, with just enough wood accents to add style but not much by way of weight or maintenance.

At the bow, an optional integrated composite bowsprit or “delphiniere” helps keep ground tackle from dinging the hull when anchoring and may serve as an attachment point for a gennaker. Our test boat had a standard single bow roller but for versatility, my choice would be the delphiniere, which adds a bit of length and a lot of convenience.

The 350 hull is a hand-laminated, vacuum-infused polyester/foam core sandwich construction with solid glass below the waterline. An inward flange provides a solid bulwark at the joint and an integral grid distributes loads from the rig. The layup allows control of the fibre and resin placement, and results in lighter finished parts, faster preparation, and a cleaner process overall. The cast iron keel is L-shaped with a bulb, and is offered in 1.55m and 1.90m versions. There’s a single rudder. Overall, it’s a standard underbody and the deeper draught should have good upwind performance.

 

Easy living below decks


dufour gl 350

As on larger Dufour models, the V-berth is the master suite and the interior is open from the companionway to the bow.



 

There is a choice between the two-cabin or three-cabin layout. In the two-cabin version a shower stall is incorporated into the head, which is likely to prove popular with cruising couples. Another benefit of the two cabin layout is the addition of an aft-facing nav desk that shares a seat with the settee. The desk may be lowered by sliding it down on tracks, and covered with a cushion to extend the starboard seat or to form a berth.

A guest cabin is aft to port (or in the three-cabin version, two cabins occupy the entire aft end.) The standard wood finish is Maobi and natural light is brought in by an opening hatch and two fixed acrylic ports in the headliner. These ports add to the aesthetics below but beware up top, where they can by quite slippery underfoot.

The L-shaped galley is to port and has twin sinks (one large and one small) on the centreline, a top-loading Isotherm refrigerator with plastic containers, and fiddles formed into the Corian countertops all around. To extend the limited workspace, the two-burner Eno stove has a Corian cover that slides into its own holder against the bulkhead or can be used as a serving tray. Wine has an additional dedicated space in the signature Dufour wine rack, below the floorboards at the foot of the companionway.

 

Sailing performance


Our boat test began in fluky breezes on the flat waters of the Chesapeake and came to life briefly with a swift rain-drenched lightning and thunder storm, followed again by around 4 knots of breeze (and plenty more lightning).

That made for a brief if spirited sail, as we came up to 6.5 knots at 45 degrees in 15 knots of apparent wind. The tacks were brisk but easy as the self-tacking jib just swung through, leaving us to contemplate the thunder. We cracked off to 120 degrees and dropped to 5.9 knots just as we speculated about being on the evening news as lightning victims.

Masthead view: Dufour Grand Large 350

Clearly, this little boat can hold her own on weekend romps and in round-the-cans racing.



 

At 3,000 rpm, the 29hp Volvo diesel reached 7.2 knots at the top end. We backed off to a cruising speed of 6 knots and still got home quickly. The 350 GL carries 160 litres of fuel and 220 litres of water, but there is an option to add another 220 litres of water as well. For anyone planning to cruise with a family for a week at time, it would be good to add the extra tankage.

The base price  – day-sailer version – is around £82,500 (€108,000) including VAT. The “Adventure” package includes extras like a dodger, electric windlass, rigid boomvang, full-batten main, and other big-boat features for around £89,600 (€117,232). That means that while the Dufour 350 Grand Large is every bit as capable as many larger boats, it doesn’t carry the same hefty price tag.

Other Choices: Sailors looking in this class may find the Bavaria Cruiser 33 of interest. Another sailboat in this class that keeps price in check is the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349. See: Dufour 350 Grand Large listings.

See Dieter Loibner's First Look Video of the Dufour 310 Grand Large.

 

Dufour 350 Grand Large specifications


Length: 10.28m (33ft 6in)
Beam: 3.54m (11ft 6in)
Draught: 1.55m / 1.90m (5ft 1in / 6ft 3in)
Sail Area: 55sq m (529sq ft)
Displacement: 5,674kg
Fuel capacity: 160 litres (42 gal)
Water capacity*: 220 litres (58 gal)
*Optional second tank available

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