It’s been a few years now since the incredibly revolutionary Dufour Grand Large 500 blasted onto the scene with all kinds of newfangled ideas. The Felci design turned heads, so Dufour ensured that the line grew by quickly introducing the similar Grand Large (GL) 560 and 460. Now in the second generation of the design concept, Dufour continues to tweak and refine features that have been added onto previously successful hulls. Such is the case of the Dufour Grand Large 520 (a successor to the GL 500) that evolved with the help of some clever improvements. Have a look for yourself in our First Look Video shot at the 2018 Miami International Boat Show.
The major enhancements on the 520 cluster around the aft end of the cockpit where the revolutionary 500 had slotted in an outdoor galley complete with a grill. The chef stood on the drop-down transom and whipped up gourmet meals while keeping the cooking odors and heat out of the cabin and also being part of the happy hour activities in the cockpit. The concept hasn’t really changed much but the execution of the details has improved.
The portside transom seat lifts up and outboard to reveal the sink while the grill is now tucked into the center section. With the lid down, the seat is part of a sunpad. It also has an integrated backrest that doubles as a leg. When flipped all the way over and forward, the lid becomes a guest seat at the aft end of the cockpit table so a larger party can now be accommodated for al fresco dining. And if you need a cold beverage, the cockpit table has added a 40-quart refrigerator drawer to keep drinks and snacks at hand.
The starboard seat lifts up and out to reveal steps down to the swim step that’s formed by the transom. An optional double level swim platform is available. When lifted, it forms the transom but when deployed electrically, it forms two levels of steps, one high and one low, so access to the water is even easier.
Dufour didn’t stop at only improving the lifestyle features. They also focused on “sailability” by re-designing the binnacles that now are more like superyacht command pods. These elegant helms hold two levels of navigation electronics including chartplotters up high where they can be seen easily by the driver, and instruments, compasses, and optional dual throttle and thruster controls where the hand can find them quickly.
Two sets of winches are outboard and within reach of the wheels so it’s possible to single-hand this big boat. The 9/10 fractional rig supports a traditional or in-mast furling mainsail and 1,085 square feet of sail area. An optional gennaker will make this slippery hull fly downwind and she’ll track nicely with the help of her 7’6” L-shaped keel.
The bow gained an integrated composite bowsprit that has a solid stainless steel structure overlaid with fiberglass to form a traditional anchor roller as well as an attachment point for a gennaker. This is an improvement over the GL 500’s long stainless bow roller (originally, the GL 500 had an anchoring system that had to be deployed from the anchor locker with a halyard, which made no sense at all. This is vastly better).
Inside, Dufour devotees will find the familiar layout that took the boat shows by storm a few years ago. The galley is still split and runs athwartship just aft of the master stateroom. The appliances have switched sides so now the stove and sink are to port while to starboard are two refrigerator drawers. The entire main cabin has the open concept and great room feel we’ve grown accustomed to in our homes and the two halves of the galley allow multiple cooks to work simultaneously. The placement of the galley also adds a bit of privacy to the master cabin forward but it’s still a long way to go to reach the cockpit with a pot of hot chili, especially underway and heeling.
An electric, folding hi/lo table has been added that is adjustable to three positions from a small low coffee table to a high large dining surface. The origami nav desk across from the dinette adjusts to remain level regardless of the angle of heel and it can be shifted to either forward or aft facing positions. Light pours in via two overhead hatches and an entire section of fixed portlights over the galley. Claustrophobia will not be a problem on this boat.
The aft port cabin can be converted easily from a double to twin beds for versatility with kids or guests. The GL 520 sleeps up 10 in five cabins and that will work well for charter with the bow split into two staterooms and an over/under cabin replacing the nav desk and starboard head. For private use, a better layout would be the sumptuous master forward with a split head and two cabins/two heads aft. This makes the boat feel bigger and let’s you keep that nifty nav desk.
The 520 is a sailing machine but it’s also a formidable entertaining platform so it’s no surprise that there is bottle stowage below the saloon sole as has become almost standard on French boats. The Maobi wood finish and upgraded fittings have added a richer dimension while Corian countertops and washbasins in the heads add a luxe feel.
Dufour has built over 80 models since the company was formed in 1965 and they splash more than 300 hulls per year. Continued innovation and evolution allow them to keep up this pace with a reasonable R&D outlay. The new GL 520, which took the successful GL 500 platform and built on it to improve the overall experience, is just a great French version of the theory of evolution.
See Dufour Grand Large listings.