With many sub-32ft boats on the market, Graham Snook visits Plymouth to see if the Dufour 310 stands out from the crowd, here's his verdict on her.
What’s she like to sail?
The Dufour 310 stands out by having twin wheels, but I’m not convinced that they’re necessary, or even desirable, on a 31ft boat. Like many other systems with two heavy, stainless steel wheels, when you move your wheel there’s an echo of movement from the rotational inertia of the wheel opposite.
Yes, this can be reduced by upgrading to carbon fibre wheels, but at almost 10% of the cost of the boat it’s a high proportion of her value. It’s a real shame because I was very impressed with the feel and feedback from the Dufour 310’s wheel and Lewmar steering. The twin rudders grip well making her finger-light on the helm – even when bashing upwind in 20-25 knots with a reef in the mainsail. Her self-tacking jib and the optional simple mainsheet bridle make her a doddle to sail; the only downside is that the mainsheet goes to a winch on the coachroof, far from the helm.
Off the wind her performance was good, although on a broad reach there’s a penalty from the reduced sail area of the self-tacking jib. A 110% genoa is an option. Overall the Dufour 310 was fun and delightful to helm, simple to sail and up near the top of her class.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
Those lovely overhead windows in the saloon that let in so much light are an option, as is the oak interior. This is a shame, because they really set the boat apart from her rivals.
The galley is reasonable and moving the cutlery tray to the centre of saloon table is a neat idea. The forward cabin would be great for children, or those less than 1.55m (5ft 1in) tall. With the infills extending the berth to 1.94m (6ft 4in) and the double doors, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into making it a versatile area that works well.
But why Dufour couldn’t put that thought into the engine access of the Dufour 310 I’ll never know. Unless you remove the ventilation ducting in the engine space you’ll have a fuel hand pump that can’t be used and impossible fuel and oil filter access. Add the awkward dipstick and restricted oil cap access and, well, if I were an owner, I’d want to get hold of whoever designed the engine bay and force them to service the engine.
Would she suit you and your crew?
Masochistic mechanics aside, she’ll make a great boat for a couple with or without children, or those moving up from smaller or older boats. She’s easy to sail and can be handled short-handed. The cockpit coaming is a winch-free area, leaving it safe for little (or big) hands to roam unimpeded. She’s available in three versions: Day Sail, Liberty and Adventure.
At 1.90m her draught is quite deep for cruising some parts of the UK, but it does add to her performance – a ballasted centreboard is an option. The Dufour 310’s cockpit makes a good entertaining area when the weather allows, and the saloon could sit six around the large table.
She’s nimble enough to be fun to sail and would be a great boat in which to introduce your friends and family to sailing. There’s enough deck stowage for dinghy, fenders, warps and so on. If it wasn’t for the dreadful access to the engine’s service points she’d make a enjoyable port-hopping coastal cruiser.
Price (as tested) £111,174 inc VAT
LOA 9.67m (31ft 9in)
LWL 8.70m (28ft 7in)
Beam 3.31m (10ft 10in)
Draught 1.90m (6ft 3in)
Displacement 4940kg (10,890 lb)
Ballast 1300kg (2,866 lb)
Ballast ratio 26.3%
Sail area 50.3m2 (541sq ft)
SA/D ratio 17.6
Diesel 90lit (20 gal)
Water 160lit (35 gal)
Engine 20hp diesel saildrive
RCD category B
Designer Felci Yachts
Builder Dufour Yachts
UK Agent Network Yacht Brokers Southwest Ltd
Tel 01752 605 377