Dufour 412 Grand Large, afe in the middle of a summer storm with 30-knot winds, and high-performance in light winds. Variable weather conditions allowed us to thoroughly test the new 12-metre version of the French-built cruiser
by Niccolò Volpati
The boat is in Salerno, and to get there I leave Milan by train before dawn. The high-speed Frecciarossa delivers me to my destination after almost six hours, not a minute late. Strange. Before testing the boat I have to wait while they replace the starter motor, which burned out the previous day. They assure me that the mechanic can get it done in less than half an hour.
I don’t believe it, but he does. The Salerno mechanic takes less than thirty minutes to complete the job. So here we are, ready for the Dufour 412 Grand Large test run. We leave the harbour behind, partly because the Amalfi coastline is starting to show some pretty threatening black clouds. We head out to sea in the hope of outrunning the storm. But I’m asking too much. By Murphy’s law, after two strokes of luck, it’s obvious that something has to go wrong. And so it does. The first clap of thunder comes suddenly as soon as we raise the mainsail outside the harbour.
The rain batters us and the gusts of wind are at 25/30 knots. The sprayhood and the awning are not enough to stop us getting wet, but they’re much appreciated anyway.
Luckily it’s summer, and the best thing to do is strip off to swimsuits. We continue, ever hopeful, heading away from the coast, since out there it’s sunny, and the clouds seem to be thickening on land. The worst appears to be over, so we unroll the genoa, but Murphy’s law is still with us. Even before we tighten and secure the sail, there’s another thunderclap, even more violent than the first.
The rain pours down and the wind reaches 28 to 31 knots. I catch the eye of one of the two young lads of EuroSail Yacht who accompanying me. I feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Then I decide not to tempt fate any further. We furl the jib and move to beam reach with the mainsail slightly loosened to avoid too much shock load.
The sails are Zaoli in Tecnora Carbon, giving better performance than the standard. Alongside other accessories, they are part of the EuroSail Yacht Limited Edition, and we wouldn’t be very popular if we took them back shredded. Eventually the Fantozzi cloud passes, the sun returns and the wind settles at around 12 knots.
Before it changes its mind, we quickly unfurl the genoa and begin building up some speed. The hull is designed by Umberto Felci. The Dufour 412 Grand Large is actually the evolution of the 410 GL, launched just a couple of years ago by the La Rochelle shipyard. This is a guarantee.
The boat is certainly a cruiser, but its performance is more than satisfactory. Almost seven knots close-hauled. If we loosen the sails, we reach seven and a half, and slackened, we can get to eight. The genoa is 105%, but it’s a jib, not a Code Zero.
The stemhead fitting allows us to add a second furler for a Code 0 which, particularly when cruising, and even when the wind isn’t excessive, becomes the ideal sail for almost any kind of reach, from close-hauled to broad. The deck layout is functional and practical. This isn’t the usual augmented easy sailing, designed for sailors who always go it alone. A cruiser is made for company, and so there are 4 winches, but they’re not all close to the wheel: two are within reach, the others are near the companionway hatch.
The Dufour 412 Grand Large cockpit is spacious, with room for movement without bumping into each other. It’s easy to get to the bow too. This is thanks to the upper shrouds attached to the side wall and the lower ones fixed to the deckhouse. The side-deck is therefore completely uncluttered and we can move around safely without particular deviations. There’s not even a diagonal reinforcing bar at head level. In addition to the Zaoli sails, the EuroSail Yacht Limited Edition has other features that further enhance a deck and interior design that was already pretty good. The cockpit table, for example, has a foldaway light in the centre.
The stern side of the table has been fitted with a 12-inch Garmin plotter with a Panoptix Forward transducer, making it possible to see what’s under the keel and in front of the bow. Perfect for the Mediterranean, where you’re navigating coastlines full of shallows and outcrops of rocks. The two helm wheels are in aluminium: lightweight and elegant.
There are also elegant door handles as part of the kit offered by the dealer. Finally, EuroSail Yacht has embellished the boat with the addition of Flexiteek on deck and even in the bathrooms. The features I liked best were the 194 cm internal height of the cabins and deckhouse.
The abundant natural light filtering through windows and portholes. The cockpit table that folds away into bench seating when not in use, but is also big enough to get out all the charts, set squares and compass. Lastly, since the Grand Large line is undoubtedly made for cruising enthusiasts, I particularly liked the grill area with sink and chopping board in the cockpit.
It’s stored under the lockers, which also function as seating for the helmsman, and provide a convenient work space by folding down the transom. It’s ideal if you want to cook while moored, but pretty rare to find on a twelve-metre yacht.
They say after the storm comes the calm. This is what happens, and we hasten back to harbour. As well as the 55 hp engine that drives the boat at 7 knots cruising and 8 at top speed, we have time to try out another accessory from the Limited Edition kit.
There’s no propeller at the bow onboard this Dufour 412 Grand Large, but Holland Marine jet thrusters. There’s practically no wind left now, so manoeuvring and mooring isn’t difficult; nevertheless we get the feeling they work much better than a normal bow propeller, partly because there are four nozzles: two fore and two aft. This allows the boat to move sideways, to the delight of cruise sailors, who avoid having to sweat to moor it at the quay.
EuroSail Yacht, importatore unico per l’Adriatico (sole dealer for the Adriatic sea) Via Monte Ortigara 3/d
I-33054 Lignano Sabbiadoro (UD)
Tel +39 0431 70610
Dufour 412 Grand Large
PROJECT: Felci Yachts
HULL: LOA 12.70m • Length 11.98m • Waterline length 11.15m • Max beam 4.20m • Light displacement 8940 kg • Ballast 2600 kg • Draft 2.10m • Fuel tank capacity 200 l • Water tank capacity 380 l • Total sailing surface 71 m2 • Mainsail 38 m • Genoa 33 m2
MAIN PROPULSION: Volvo Penta D2-55F • 41 kW (55 hp) • 4 stroke • Swept volume 2.2 l • 4 cylinders • Bore & Stroke 84mm x 100mm • Compression ratio 23,3:1 • Max torque massimo 3000/min • Dry weight with saildrive 253 kg
EC CERTIFICATION: Cat. A
(Dufour 412 Grand Large, riders on the storm – Barchemagazine.com – January 2018)