The flagship of the French yard has a significant amount of room and comfort, but the naval architecture – which, as always, is by Umberto Felci – also means that it delivers very good performance under sail
by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Jérôme Kelagopian and Jean-Marie Liot
We have grown used to good things, but we still want more. Sports yachtsmen are very demanding. Comfort and room can never reach a high enough standard but have to be continually updated to meet increasingly overly-ambitious requests. As well as all of that, and because we are talking about sailing boats, they also need wind to move. This tough job was once again handed to Umberto Felci, a veteran of Dufour’s cruising models. He knows what the yard wants and he knows what buyers are looking for, but that didn’t mean it was an easy task. The 61 is the flagship, and the largest boat that the yard based in La Rochelle has ever made. It has an 18.30-metre hull, which gives a 19.22m length overall, with a beam of 5.48m. That’s a significant width, but not excessive. The lines of the hull and the deckhouse don’t give the feeling of a boat that is only designed for comfort. And then there is a fairly significant sail plan, given that the mainsail is 104 square metres, and the self-tacking jib is 66 m2. If you decide to go for a traditional genoa, then the sail area would increase by a dozen square metres. So basically, the figures mean that it can sail, and not just when there is a 20-knot wind.
Cruising is synonymous with untroubled sailing and the deck set-up seems to follow that requirement. The mainsail sheet is on a rollbar so that it does not pour down drips into the middle of the cockpit. There are four winches, all of them close to the wheel, and the jib is self-tacking. Everything seems easy to handle, and easy to understand. Dufour 61 is a boat that you can helm easily, and it does not take too much effort. Another feature that is appreciated by cruise lovers is the simplicity of getting around on board. There are no steps, no need to climb over seats and seatbacks, and the gangways are wide enough to get from bow to stern, even when underway in a moderate sea. The gunwale is structural and integrated into the hull, giving a feeling of strength.
In the cockpit, the area set aside for rigging is kept to the stern, while all the rest of the space is taken up by benches and the central table. Between the two wheels, as has become a tradition for Dufour, there is a two-person sun pad, which is something that has nearly five and a half metres of the beam allows. And, since nothing is ever enough for us sailors, if you raise the back of the sunbed which looks onto the folding stern platform, you find that it hides a grill and sink. Sailing boats of over fifty feet are right at the limit. In theory, there is room for a tender garage, but then it gets a bit cramped and you end up not using it. That is doubly wasteful – the locker stays empty and the tender has to be towed or hauled up on deck. This is not the case with the Dufour 61 both because the volumes mean you can stow the tender without having to deflate it or do strange manoeuvres to get it out and put it back, and also because the folding swimming platform in the stern means you can do that extremely easily. And having a large tender garage makes things so much easier, especially on a cruise.
There are many options for the interior layout. The first is the colour of the wood: light or dark, according to taste. As well as colours, you can also choose what set-up suits you best below decks. The main choice involves where you put the kitchen. One way is in the stern, on the port side, which means you can take advantage of the room which gives access to one of the stern cabins. If you go for that, then all of the central section of the boat is taken up by the living area, the dining table, seats and also a good-sized map area. Alternatively, the galley can be located further forward, right behind the master cabin. That means having a larger kitchen, with more room to work, both to port and starboard.
The master cabin is in the bow. That location is fixed, while there are many options for those in the stern. There are two of them, but in one case they are identical, with double or two single beds, while the other version has a double room and a smaller one with just one single bed and a private bathroom. That variant works very well for a captain or second sailor, with the main sailor’s cabin deep in the bows. So essentially the various layouts mean you can have three cabins and three bathrooms, or four cabins and three bathrooms, but laid out differently in the area below decks.
The 180 horsepower from the Volvo Penta engine ensures you can get around quickly when you need to, or when there is no wind.
La Rochelle, Francia
Felci Yacht Design
LOA 19.22m • Length 18.30m • Waterline length 17.62m • maximum beam 5.48m • Displacement (unloaden) 24,150 kg • Ballast 6,500 kg • Draft 2.80 m • Fuel tank volume 780 l • Water tank volume 880 l • Total sailing surface 170 m2 • Main sail surface 104 m2 • Self tacking jib 66 m2
Volvo Penta D4-180 • Outlet mechanical power 132 kW (180 hp) • 4 stroke • Swept volume 3.7 l • 4 cylinders • Bore&Stroke 103mm x 110mm • Compression ratio 17.5:1 • Maximal rotational speed 2800/min
Starting from 1,040,000 Euros (June 2022)
(Dufour 61, XL cruising – Barchemagazine.com – June 2022)