There are few options for those wanting a new boat in this size range, so Rupert Holmes travelled to La Rochelle to put the Dufour 32 through its paces

Product Overview


Dufour 32 – impressive new smaller yacht


Price as reviewed:

£185,159.00 (As tested inc. VAT )

Dufour is one of the few yards that has maintained a constant presence at the smaller end of the new yacht market and with the launch of the Dufour 32 is making an effort to stand out from the competition.

This model is aimed at a more active and younger audience, as can be seen from promotional images that show a wing-foiling board stowed on the guardrails.

The hull and deck are those of the 30ft 8in Dufour 310 from 2014, with minor restyling at the bow. There are, however, changes that update the original and give this boat a different character.

The biggest of these is swapping from twin rudders and twin wheels to a single rudder and tiller steering. The Dufour 32 interior fit out is also simplified relative to the 310, which had a complex interior with many small components that were time-consuming to fabricate and expensive to fit. These combined changes reduce displacement by 500kg, making for a lighter and faster boat, especially in light airs.

We tested hull number 1, which was very much a prototype intended to test a number of novel ideas, some of which are being further developed before the model goes into full production. The finished results are due to be unveiled on the first production boat.

Light floods the saloon and there’s good ventilation, though the prototype lacks easy-access stowage. Photo: Christophe Breschi

Hull design for the Dufour 32 is by Umberto Felci, with maximum beam carried aft and chines, but a lot of flare aft above the waterline, giving relatively low wetted surface area for speed in light airs. It’s not very different from the very latest designs, with the exception that the forward sections are a little narrower, which reduces form stability and volume in the forecabin.

Single rudder designs have improved enormously since wide-transom boats were first introduced – plenty of today’s powerful racing yachts achieve good control with a single rudder, for instance. However, part of this improvement is gained by tucking the blade well under the hull, where it operates clear of the disturbed water near the transom. However, the position of the aft cabin berth means that’s not
an option for this boat.

Nevertheless, the single tiller arrangement suits this boat far better than the twin wheels of the previous model, which represented unnecessary complication, weight and expense on a boat of this size. It also means the helm position is no longer pushed right aft against the rail at the transom. Instead, you can sit further forward where the sheets, halyards and reefing lines are all within reach. Unlike most tiller steered boats, the setup allows for a proper below-decks autopilot. This is far easier to use, more powerful and reliable than a regular tiller pilot.

Dufour 32 verdict

The past couple of decades have seen huge leaps forward in yacht design. Yet it’s very hard to produce a boat of this size at a price the market will bear, to the extent that some builders see them as loss leaders that are necessary to introduce new buyers to the market.

The problem is the shop floor time associated with installing engines, electrical systems, plumbing, even keels and deck fittings, is almost identical for a 31ft boat as for a 38- or 40-footer. Dufour therefore has to be credited for maintaining a presence in this part of the market. There are many owners who do not need a larger vessel than this and it would be a shame if they were not able to enjoy the benefits of a new boat and design advances.

The ease of sailing a smaller boat, and the relative lack of hassle, are important factors in the Dufour 32’s favour. Throughout the test the boat was fun to sail and easy to handle with only two of us aboard, even though the pilot was not in use and we used the Code Zero and spinnaker.

While I didn’t get to sail the boat in a brisk breeze, light airs can expose flaws in a design just as much as gusty conditions. The taller rig and Code Zero were clear advantages in this respect, but also showed the boat is easily driven with no undue vices.

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LOA:10.31m (33ft 10in)
LOD:9.35m (30ft 8in)
LWL:8.70m (28ft 6in)
Beam:3.31m (10ft 10in)
Draught:1.90m (6ft 3in)
Shoal draught option:1.60m (5ft 3in)
Displacement:4,900kg (10,800lbs)
Ballast:1,330kg (2,930lb)
Mainsail:34m2 (366sq ft)
Genoa:22m2 (237sq ft)
Fuel tank:90L (19.8 gallons)
Water tank:160L (35.2 gallons)
Engine power:19hp
RCD category:B (six crew)
Base price:£99,960 inc VAT