It’s not often I get to go sailing for work, but recently I joined a press posse for the first North American glimpse at the new Dufour 36.
With my sister-in-law Laurie Cronin in tow (she’s an amateur photographer who was visiting from upstate New York), we showed up a few minutes early. So instead of sampling the tempting pastries or having an unnecessary second cup of coffee, we headed down to the boats to take some photos before the other press (and the heat) arrived in force.
Now the worst thing you can do as an event guest is mess with the schedule. But Eric Macklin and the rest of the Dufour staff were very accommodating; they even sent a messenger down to the boats to let us know when the presentation started, so we didn’t miss anything.
The day’s schedule was for a presentation and lunch, followed by walkarounds and sailing. From a seabreeze point of view that made a lot of sense, but for those of us trying to pack more than one event into the work day (it was the first day of the Newport America’s Cup World Series, after all) it was simply too much time. Eric and his team wisely compacted the schedule, and right after his in-depth presentation we motored out of the basin on the 36.
I’d already gawked at the voluminous interior, so I devoted my attention to the deck layout. The clean open feeling continues on deck, and even walking around barefoot I didn’t stub any toes or trip over any lines.
The wind was light for our test sail, but the boat responded well to any small helm adjustment. Tacking was a breeze, and even jibing the asymmetric kite only required a slight assist around the headstay. The rudder post bearings are designed to minimize binding under load, but I’ll have to take the company’s word that the helm remains light even as the breeze pipes up.
Though the boat's base price is very competitive, there are many optional features that I would consider necessary. The best example is the retractable bowsprit; it’s an option, but I wouldn’t want to fly a spinnaker without one.
All in all, Dufour has done a great job of removing the conflict between racing and cruising. Fast can be comfortable—even for the boat’s press event.
For more info, read our full review of the Dufour 36: Bold New Lines
Photos courtesy Laurie Cronin