SUBJECT To Change
Versatile by design, the DUFOUR 520
After spending more than an hour inspecting the new Dufour 520 during the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, last fall and then sailing the boat in a decent breeze in the days following, our Boat of the Year judges named the queen of the company’s Grand Large line Best Full-size Cruiser 50 to 54 feet.
They might just as easily have named the Umberto Felci-designed French production-built sailboat Best Value Among Peers or Most Versatile, had those categories been an option. It was a boat that quickly rose to the top as our independent team of experts reviewed their notes and picked this year’s fleet of winners.
“This one hits it for me in this class,” said Ed Sherman, citing the boat’s sailing melds comfort at anchor with performance at sea. performance — 5.5 to 6 knots in 9 to 11 knots of wind — the ergonomics of the cockpit, and the layout below, where the galley is located athwartships at the main bulkhead, leaving the beamiest part of the saloon dedicated to living and entertaining space.
His colleague Tim Murphy quickly agreed, pointing out the boat’s several “Transformer-like” attributes that are easily toggled between sailing and living modes. Starting topside aft, an enormous, two-level swim platform folds up when on the move to secure the cockpit and provide seating for the helmsman at either of the twin wheels. At anchor, with the platform down, it gives the chef a place to stand when using the outdoor sink and grill. A drawer-style fridge under the drop-leaf teak cockpit table completes the outdoor galley. Forward of the wheels, the crew can relax against the cockpit coamings on bench seats while underway; at anchor, panels fold up to turn those seats into sun lounges or outdoor bunks for sleeping under the stars.
Down below, to starboard, at the foot of the companionway stairs, a desk to port slides ahead to become a forward-facing nav station while underway. It can also be tilted, depending on the tack you’re on. When in port, the desk can be pushed aft and turned into an end table, and a fill-in cushion creates a full-length settee or extra sea berth.
Opposite is a dining table that, with the flip of a switch, can be lowered for cocktails or coffee, raised for dining or folded open to feed the whole crew. Outboard of it, there’s a second full-length settee; amidships and aft, seats lock into the floor, and their backs provide much-appreciated handholds when underway.
Numerous overhead hatches let in light and air, and ports in the hull let you enjoy the view when seated below. Owners can choose between a darker Moabi interior wood or light oak, which was used on