Peter Poland reports on the new Dufour 32, which reflects the many changes made down the years in the designs and dimensions of production cruising yachts…

Product Overview

Dufour 32


Dufour 32 review: 56 years of French design went into this new cruiser

Price as reviewed:

£126,730.00 (approx base price inc. VAT)

When Michel Dufour set up as a designer and builder of GRP yachts back in the 1960s, the Arpege 30 (introduced in 1966) was only his second production yacht.

In those days a 30-footer was one of the largest GRP cruisers to be built for the fast-growing market in GRP yachts. And an impressive 1,500 of this great Michel Dufour design were sold before production ceased in 1976.

Yet today, buyers looking for new cruisers around 30ft will be hard pressed to find anything on the market. Beneteau, Jeanneau, Dufour, Bavaria, Hanse et al are all producing ever bigger cruisers; and GRP 60-footers are now commonplace.

New smaller yachts like the recent Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 (2019), Hanse 315 (2016) and Dufour 32 (2022) are rare. The smallest Jeanneau, Hallberg-Rassy and Bavaria are all 34-footers.

Big yacht surge

There are many reasons for the increasing number of large, high value yachts. The most interesting of these relates to what is known in the USA as ‘The Great Wealth Transfer.’

As ageing ‘baby boomers’ sadly begin to depart in increasing numbers, they leave their substantial assets to their children. A 2019 study by American real estate specialists Coldwell Banker suggests that US millennials stand to inherit in excess of US$68 trillion from their baby boomer parents by 2030.

Millions of young US consumers are therefore likely to become buyers of high value goods. UK figures will of course be smaller; but they will have much the same effect. UK dealers tell me that this surge is already being seen in yacht purchases. More people are buying bigger yachts.

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Unsurprisingly therefore, many manufacturers are concentrating their efforts on big boats. These are in demand and more profitable. It’s also a fact that the time to build a smaller boat, install its engine and plumbing then fit the ever-growing list of electrics and accessories is not pro-rata to the cost of fitting these in a bigger boat.

Even though the material costs of a larger boat are more, the man hours needed to fit out a smaller boat are far higher in relation to its size and selling price. Fortunately a few builders still believe that smaller cruisers are needed to attract buyers to their range… even if the margins are smaller.

Strength to strength

The Dufour range includes the 32, 37, 390, 412, 430, 470, 530, 56 and 61 models. All are designed by Umberto Felci and Lorenzo Giovannozzi of Felci Yacht design who have produced 38 models for Dufour since 2002; several of which have won major awards.

Recently, the Dufour 470 won the 2021 Cruising Yacht of the Year at the British Yachting Awards while the Dufour 530 won American Sail magazine’s 2021 Best Boat Award in the Large Monohull 50ft and above category.

‘Dufour’s latest Felci-designed hulls can fit in an amazing amount of space for their length’

In 2017, the Dufour 520 Grand Large won ‘Boat of the Year’ in the 50ft to 54ft category and in 2016 Felci Yacht design’s Grand Soleil 58 design won Vela e Motore magazine’s Boat of the Year award. Leading American magazine Cruising World awarded the Dufour 382 Grand Large its Best Midsize Cruiser title in 2015 and named the Dufour 560 Grand Large ‘Best Cruiser over 50ft’.

Based in La Rochelle, the Dufour company has gone from strength to strength since it was acquired in 2018 by leading catamaran builder Fountaine-Pajot. It seems that any successful brand of monohull benefits greatly from the increased turnover of a multihull division; as has proved to be the case with Beneteau (with Lagoon and Excess), Hanse (with Privilège) and Bavaria (with Nautitech).

I was therefore quick to accept an invitation from UK Dufour agents Universal Yachting, based on the Hamble at Mercury Yacht Harbour, to have a run in the exciting looking Dufour 32. This brand new model is based on the Dufour 310 hull and it incorporates innovative ideas.


Aerial view of the Dufour 32’s spacious cockpit with table and inflatable bathing platform lowered and a comfortable coaming cushion in position. Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

Dufour 32: Initial impressions

The first thing to hit me as I clambered from the pontoon into the cockpit was the absence of twin steering wheels and twin rudders.

These seem to be the norm on many modern cruisers, yet they add greatly to the cost and weight; especially on smaller yachts. Instead, the Dufour 32 has a hinging tiller connected to a single deep rudder.

This also enables the autohelm to be attached directly to the rudder stock instead of cluttering up the cockpit. Thanks to a robust and adjustable tiller extension, the helmsman can steer from the cockpit seat or further outboard from the coamings (equipped with excellent cushions).


Uncluttered side decks with teak toerails and a recessed self-tacker track, robust black grab handles and neatly arranged sail controls. Photo: Peter Poland

The cockpit itself is extremely spacious, as befits a boat designed and built to give exciting performance. Twin Lewmar 40 winches at the aft end of the coachroof give good control of the halyards, reef lines and jib sheets.

There are also two mounting positions further aft for extra winches to handle Code 0 and spinnaker sheets. The mainsheet comes off an adjustable rope lead on the coachroof and there is an option to take the final lead to a cockpit sole mounted block.

Another unique option is a removable and inflatable ‘aft door’ to the cockpit that can also fold down to sea level to provide a useful bathing platform. It is pumped up in the same way as an inflatable paddleboard and when deflated can be stored in the cockpit locker. The inflatable cushions to fit on the cockpit seats will also add to the overall comfort.

The cockpit table has additional functions and three alternative positions: Its raised position offers alfresco dining; lower it to cockpit seat level to create a large sunbathing area; or remove it completely for lots of space while sailing.


Despite light winds, Performance Pack sails give plenty of power. Photo: Peter Poland

Rig choices

The Dufour 32 has an interesting choice of two different rigs to cater for owners who want maximum performance or those who are happy with a less powerful cruising rig.

Both rigs have two sets of swept spreaders and no backstay. Those seeking high speeds can opt for a Performance Pack that comprises a DCX square headed fully battened mainsail instead of the standard Dacron mainsail, and a 108% DCX genoa instead of the Dacron self-tacking jib.

It also includes gear for an asymmetric spinnaker, a cockpit mounted main sheet block, a two-bladed folding prop and a rigid vang. This option costs €12,606. I was told that the mast is the same as that on the speedy Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300.


The Dufour 32 flies an asymmetric spinnaker from the bowsprit. Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The test boat was equipped with this Performance Pack and in 7 knots apparent wind she tacked through an impressive 76° at 4.2 knots. On a reach in 7.4 knots apparent wind, she hit an equally impressive 4.7 knots under mainsail and 108% genoa.

Sadly, this was the most wind we could find during the test sail. But good light weather performance is a sure sign of an efficient hull shape and rig so overall performance can be expected to be equally good.

The chines reduce waterline beam in light weather and increase directional stability in a blow. As designer David Thomas once said after persuading me to have chines on our 26ft twin keel cruisers and Hunter 707 planing sportsboat: “Water likes chines. They tell it where to go”.

Under engine the standard DI20F 19hp Volvo pushed her quietly along at 5 knots at 2,100rpm; and at 6.3 knots at 3,100rpm. At all times the helm felt positive and the tiller extension enabled the helmsman to sit comfortably on the seat or cockpit coaming.


Intuitive layout

The deck layout, befitting a yacht designed to give good performance, is well thought out and easy to move around on. The side decks are amply wide and teak toerails give security. Sturdy aluminium handrails situated on the edge of the coachroof come easily to hand.

The bowsprit for flying the Code 0 or asymmetric spinnaker looks well designed and strong. The anchor mounting on the stemhead is removable when you want to go racing. Below, the Dufour 32 is commendably spacious for a boat of her length, and the extensive deckhead windows make it light, airy and a nice place to be.

There’s a wide choice of upholstery fabrics and Dufour sailboats are available in two types of wood finish. The oak’s light tones offer a touch of modernity, as well as a warm and pleasant feel. The teak gives off a natural, understated elegance.


The galley has a sink, freshwater tap, sea water tap, fridge, cooker and ample stowage. Photo: Peter Poland

Once in the saloon, there’s a lot to take in. Starting aft, the heads compartment to starboard is very spacious for a 32-footer. Facing you as you enter, there’s a basin mounted on a flat surface with a locker under that also contains pipes and skin fittings.

A mixer tap and moveable shower head are beside the basin and the moulded floor of the compartment has an electric sump pump to shift the shower water.

Above the basin are two spacious lockers with mirrors on the hinge-up doors. And aft is a rack for hanging wet weather gear that drains onto the floor. The fuel tank lives in the adjacent starboard sail locker.


The stern cabin feels spacious and there’s good storage in the lockers on the right of the photo. Photo: Peter Poland

The aft stern cabin is located to port. Just inside the door there’s a hanging locker and storage shelves. The battery isolator switches are on the side of the berth and the water tank is beneath it.

The berth is around 194cm long, 183cm wide at its widest point and around 115cm wide adjacent to the companionway steps. As with all boats, anyone considering the Dufour 32 should take their shoes off and try the bunks for size. Moving forward, the galley (to port) is L-shaped with gas cooker, fridge, sink and several storage lockers.

The surface finish is Corian, including the sink and fridge lids. When studying the Comfort Pack (cost €15,600) it is worth checking which items are included. There are two settee berths in the saloon. The starboard one is particularly long. There are also two under-deck lockers each side, plus stowage under the berths.

Dufour 32 boat test: The saloon is spacious and airy for a 32ft boat

The saloon is spacious and airy for a 32ft boat. Photo: Peter Poland

The saloon table is nicely finished and there is a substantial central glass and bottle locker. The table can also act as an infill to make a large berth.

The hinging instrument panel to starboard does not have a chart table beneath it. Many modern sailors are happy to use electronic navigational instruments and make do with the saloon table to spread out a chart when necessary.

The forecabin is divided from the saloon by hinging doors and the berth is around 184cm long and 167cm wide at widest point. Once again – as I often advised our visitors at boat shows – it’s a case of shoes off and try it for size.


The 19hp Volvo is accessed by hinging up the companionway steps. Photo: Peter Poland

Sailing the Dufour 32: A light wind test

The GRP work throughout the boat looks good (where accessible). And when I commented on the excellent finish on the underside of the deck moulding and on the inside of the cockpit locker lids, Chris Warwick of importers Universal Yachting pointed out that the deck is injection moulded.

Universal also charters out a 2022 example of the Dufour 390 (bare boat or skippered) enabling potential future owners to get a feel for the designs.

The Dufour 32 is an excellent example of how Dufour’s latest Felci-designed hulls with their short overhangs, wide sterns and tall topsides can fit in an amazing amount of space for their length.

Our test in light airs gave us no chance to evaluate how she sailed in a stiff breeze. But her performance was excellent in the light conditions on offer and I have no reason to doubt her abilities in the stronger stuff.


Dufour has set out to produce a modern model that will attract new clients to its range as well as satisfy clients who have no need for a bigger boat; and I believe they have succeeded.


Comfort pack (obligatory):€15,600
Performance and adventure packs (Other accessories available):€24,606
LOA:10.31m / 33ft 10in
Hull length:9.36m / 30ft 9in
Waterline length:8.70m / 28ft 7in
Displacement (light):4,900kg / 10,802lb
Draught (Deep bulbed keel) :1.90m / 6ft 3in
Draught (Shallow draught keel):1.60m / 5ft 3in
Beam:3.31m / 10ft 10in
Ballast:1,300kg / 2,866lb
Fuel tank:90lt / 24gal
Water tank:160lt / 35gal
Mainsail area:34m2 / 366ft2
Genoa area:22m2 / 236ft2
Engine:Volvo DI20F 19hp