The Boat

S/Y Venda is a 2003 model dufour 40 performance, launched 2004.

Dimensions:12.1m long with a beam of 3.9 meters.  A 2.1 metre 2800kg keel gives a fairly low centre of gravity.

Weight: 7800kg dry and approximately 8500kg in sailing condition.

Having now sailed the boat for 4 years over big and small seas, it is easy to conclude that she is a very good overall boat to sail. Quite quick as the FinLys of 1.29-1.31 for the model implies (we have no certificate yet for Venda). Being quite beamy she is better on reach, like so many modern boats, but has suprised us on upwind performance also. The long 1.8m deep hung blade rudder gives a good grip, but of course it can do only so much with a beam of nearly 4 m, which is why a good balance for the sails is needed in heavier condition. Fortunately due to her weight, the broaches are not violent, they’ve even been sited as being “elegant” by someone on the crew. She is very responsible to sail and really gives you instant feedback when trimming the sails. The feel for the rudder is also very good, and you can control the steering wheel with your fingertips when the sails are in trim. A true sailors performance boat, being comfortable enough for long voyages with the family, a good compromise that is.

dufour_layout

Her interior is quite classical with three separate cabins and a “saloon” with a fixed table. The mast is deck stepped and placed quite forward. The bulkhead with the fortifications for the mast is between the saloon and the front cabin. This leads to a quite big volume of space in the main interior compartment. The aisles are of good design though, and usable even when leaning heavily. There is a separate navigation table, which can be slightly redundant nowadays, but still a good place for “office work”, when on port tack or in harbour. The head is of adequate size. We had the toilet rotated, so it is in a 45 degree angle to the long axis of the boat. This gives good leg room, and slightly helps to cling on, on the straboard tack. Along-the-axis installation was not feasible. The kitchen area is a classical design with a two burner stowe and a compressor coolbox. Both of the identical aft cabins have a standing height and quite comfortable double beds. Stowage space is abundant, and overall the interior is very functional. The functionality of the interior has been ” field tested” in a week long journey with 4 adults, 6 kids and 3 dogs, (all survived). Initially there was some problem with moisture, especially when sailing with a large crew. But after two extra solar powered vents were installed to the deck, this problem has pretty much been resolved.

dufour_Decklayout

The overall deck layout is very good. Some tweaks here and there and the boat can be sailed singlehanded. There are two sheeting winches in the cockpit, the aft ones easily reachable for the helmsman. All running rigging is led to the cockpit. The deck gear is made by Harken and of good quality. One problem is the main sheet, with the clutch right in front of the large steering wheel. There is definitely trouble to reach it from the steering position. This problem can be solved though, by running the main sheet to one of the aft winches, when sailing single handed. The cockpit is open from the aft, so no problem if a wave comes-a-visiting. The steering bench can be lowered, opening an easy access to the swimming platform, a feature very handy when using a dinghy. The companionway is quite large and the stairs a bit of a struggle to negotiate with when the boat is bouncing around or leaning heavily, especially on starboard tack. The deck is easily reachable from the cockpit, which is something I appreciate as a sailor, but not that much as a father. Then again, if you rely on deep cockpit to constrain your little ones, you’re in trouble.

When we set out to get a new boat, we had a long list of attributes we wanted to meet. The list was two faceted, with appreciation for both performance and cruising qualities. After four years of experience I can happily state that we nailed it.

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