The 525 is one of Dufour’s Grand’Large series, a French term that translates as ‘offshore’ or ‘wide blue yonder’ or something like that. Dufour also build fast boats, but this one is a cruiser. Like the X-50, she has a full-depth lazarette forward. She also has a big garage in the stern, which holds a 2.2m inflatable tender, even when inflated.
Importers Antill Marine are associated with North Sails so the team devised a smart sail plan for the boat. They cut the mainsail with a bit more depth than usual to add power. Then they made a smallish headsail, a 105 percent sail, which means it extends only slightly aft of the mast; the small size makes it easy to tack plus improves visibility.
The headsail is on a furler, but North used vertical battens in the leech (the trailing edge) to support more sail in that area, a traditional shortcoming of furled headsails, and they made the sail as powerful as possible. For sailing downwind, Antill and North specified an asymmetric spinnaker that sets from a retractable bowsprit. This is a cruising sail; it lives in a sausage bag and is hoisted while still in the bag.
When you are ready, you pull on a line to hoist the bag to the masthead, releasing the sail. When you’re finished with the sail, pull the bag down over the sail and drop it when you’ve got your breath back.
These sails have been around for a long time, but the latest carbon-fibre bag mouth slides easily; in the old days the snuffer bags were known to snag and make a terrible mess of things. We sailed on a light day and the boat sailed well—seven knots hard on the wind in 10-12 knots, a good speed. In a later sail, with a nasty blustery breeze, the sail plan made her comfortable up to 25 knots when a reef in the mainsail became desirable.
With a bigger headsail you might be tempted to roll up the headsail partway, which produces a sail shape that doesn’t work too well. These sails were cut from a Spectra cloth, which is strong and saves weight, but wears well, as a cruising sail must.
Both these boats are great examples of how smart people adapted these yachts’ standard specification to suit specific tasks. Both these boats were memorable because they took stock yachts to a different level, and conferred on them semi-custom status, different from the rest.
Like a snowflake.
Length overall – 15.31m
Length waterline – 13.74m
Beam (max.) – 4.9m
Displacement – 16.2t
Draft – 2m standard, 2.35m as tested
Engine (shaftdrive) – 75hp standard / 110hp as tested
Mainsail – 128.3m2
Fuel capacity – 500L
Water capacity – 750L
Price (2009 model) – $1.1 million