It's been only 10 months since I tested the Dufour Grand Large 500 in Annapolis, and you may remember I came away impressed by the amount of innovative details packed into what was then the largest in Dufour’s Grand Large lineup. Fast on the heels of that flagship comes the Grand Large 560, to complete a line that now features seven models.
The Grand Large 560’s profile is low with a plumb bow and a hard chine, which is consistent with the design of the line. The beam is 16’ 6” and it flows far aft, making for a very wide boat at the transom. The bow gained an integrated bowsprit that has a solid stainless-steel structure overlaid with fiberglass to form a traditional anchor roller, as well as an attachment point for a gennaker. In my opinion this is an improvement over the Grand Large 500’s retractable anchor, which had to be hoisted out of the locker with a halyard. I like an anchor that’s ready to be deployed whether for convenience or for emergencies, plus, the Delphinere, as Dufour calls it, adds a nicely integrated elongation of the bow that befits this vessel.
Another new feature is the crew cabin accessed via a foredeck hatch. For chartering, or when there’s a need for a professional captain, this private berth provides options. Feedback from European boaters who often employ skippers on boats of this size compelled Dufour to add it, although American boaters will most likely use it for sail and fender stowage. The chain locker (sealed on deck) is accessible via this cabin as well.
The 7/8 fractional rig offers a versatile sail plan that provides a traditional or in-mast furling mainsail, an 87% self-tacking jib or an overlapping genoa (genoa tracks need to be specified and added), an optional staysail that may be put on a furler, and an optional asymmetrical spinnaker. That’s a lot of choices that will work for club racers, casual cruisers or serious offshore passagemakers alike.
Sail handling is easy. The jib sheets come back to winches on the cabin-top, freeing the Lewmar primaries to manage the double-ended mainsheet or spinnaker sheets. Halyards and lines may be stowed in bins below the cockpit sole at the companionway. The forward furler is low profile, which adds to the sleek lines on deck. And the tall mast is deck-stepped, like on many other production cruisers.
The cockpit has changed a bit as well. The aft “tower” still holds a grill, a sink and a prep surface, so you can stand on the drop-down transom and barbecue. It’s a perfect entertaining platform, and now the transom top is deeper, creating a vast sun lounge that’s still away from the working or “maneuvering” part of the cockpit, with its twin helms and electronics. The forward cockpit has twin settees and a folding table that holds an optional sink, a light, and a fridge. The port side settee morphs into a double sun pad or a sea berth with a fold-up “lee cloth” of sorts, and there’s vast wet stowage below the cockpit sole accessible when the transom is lowered.
The Grand Large 560 is defined by the roominess below. To port is a U-shaped settee and convertible table, while to starboard there’s an L-shaped settee and a forward-facing nav station. The galley, as on the Grand Large 500, runs athwartships and across the entire interior. It’s separated from the saloon by two low cabinets that hold dishes and a popup flat-screen TV. The sink is now near the stove, which is an improvement, and the fridge and freezer form a stand-up unit next to the microwave to starboard. It’s a handy, social galley, even if it does seem to be a bit far from the cockpit for anyone trying ladle out soup on a passage.
The sheer number of layout options underlines Dufour’s focus on customization. The standard accommodations include one master stateroom forward, two guest cabins aft and three heads. But hold on to your hat, there are lots of choices for personalization.
First, you can add an over/under cabin to starboard, but that means losing the head and the nav station. Next, the master can be configured three different ways: with a centerline berth and split head/shower compartments; with a Pullman berth to port and the head combined in the bow area; or with an island berth that’s offset to port so that both people have access to the bed from either side. A charter version can split this area into two cabins forward with separate shower and head areas just aft. In total you can have five cabins below, plus the crew cabin on deck.
The Grand Large 560 is a sailing machine for sure, but it’s also a formidable entertaining platform. So it’s no surprise that there’s dedicated stowage for up to 39 bottles of wine, 25 of which can be placed in Dufour’s wine rack below the saloon cabin sole. The finish is Maobi or oak veneers and solid hardwoods.
Hull & Systems
The hull is built in a two-part mold that breaks open to release the new boat. It’s a dry layup, with the resin injected. The hull is cored with PVC foam above the waterline and is solid glass below. The deck is also injection-molded, and it is fastened to the hull via an internal flange that forms a solid inch-and-a-half thick bulwark. An integrated grid is then tabbed into the hull, forming attachment points for furniture as well as managing the working loads of the boat under sail.
Below the waterline, the Grand Large 560 has a cast iron keel (7’2” or 8’ 2”) with a large bulb – a feature that has appeared on Dufour yachts for 50 years. A new addition is an optional retractable bow thruster, which impressed me in two ways. First, we were on a dock perpendicular to the wind with little room forward or aft, and the thrust power was substantial as we maneuvered out. Second, the thruster was much quieter than normal, which means that even sailors usually embarrassed by a noisy thruster are more likely to use it in tight quarters.
The standard powerplant is a 110 hp Volvo Penta diesel, which is upgradable to 150 hp. The Grand Large 500 offered a Saildrive, but both options on the new flagship include a V-drive with the engine turned backwards. This allows the placement of the engine farther aft in the boat, leaving more room for living space. With the upgraded engine, we motored at 9.4 knots at 2800 rpm.
I sailed the new 560 in light air off the coast of Marina Del Rey in Southern California. We had a breeze of eight to ten knots, and our test boat had the self-tacking jib and in-mast furling mainsail—so setting the sails couldn’t have been easier. The boat pointed well and was responsive with just one finger on the helm. New boaters or singlehanders will find the smaller jib the preferred choice, as it provides hassle-free tacking.
The chine kept her on her feet with minimal heeling. The boat inspires confidence, because the moderate sail plan is so uncomplicated that managing this behemoth is no more difficult than sailing a boat twenty feet shorter.
Dufour has built over 80 models since the company was formed in 1965. Today, they build more than 300 hulls per year of various models in their Grand Large (cruising) and E (performance) lines. The company has not only longevity, but also momentum, and now that they’re management-owned (they broke away from Bavaria Group late in 2013), they don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
|Sail Area||1,400 sq. ft main, 87% Genoa|
|Fuel capacity||132 gal.|
|Water capacity||180 gal.|
Sales have been growing in 34 countries, and Dufour is gaining a stronger foothold in the U.S. market. They're positioning themselves as a production builder with a multitude of customizable options, an emphasis on performance with a good amount of innovative luxury, and reasonable pricing (the Grand Large 560 lists at slightly over $600,000). That’s not a bad strategy in any industry.
With this new model, dealers are hoping to attract a variety of sailors: those who want to coastal cruise with the occasional offshore passage, those who want to entertain large groups aboard, and those who value safety and ease of sail handling.
Other Choices: Sailors looking for a cruiser in this size range may also be interested in the Beneteau Oceanis 55. Another to look at would be the Jeanneau 53.
See Dufour Grand Large 560 listings.
For more information, visit Dufour.