New ownership is hard to define with Dufour....
I have been around Dufours since 1980..never actually owned one but sailed them many many many times..I followed their evolution since the begining...when the best thing coming out of Dufour were Windsurf boards.
At that time..they only had a pretty decent boat I believe 8 meters, with grey cabin paint, but that was it..
The brand started in 1964 and has had several owners since then. It was recentely aquired by the Grand Soleil Group of Italy.
The classical range is now 3 ranges old, they had the classic in 1995, the newer "performance" range in around 2000 and now the new “Italian” range the Grand large
. They are reasonable average boats…like Jeanneau, for example…not better…not worse….
The production of the Classic models the 30, 36 and 38 etc. feet starts in 1995 to present a moderately decent sailing boat to be able to compete with Benetau, Jeaneau , etc. but at a more accessible price.
And it suceeded, however...at a cost of less than ideal sailing qualities and reletively less than desired quality. Dufour also bought Gib Sea, where the good stuff is.. So then they owned Dufour cheaper lesser boats, and Gib Sea..very good fast boats, (or were, now well leave it there) but more expensive. Basically you had what you paid for Gib Sea as the top boats and Dufour as the accessible boat. Bt don’t get me wrong, they are still decent boats, just slow. Then they also bought KELT and KIRIE
The classic range were designed with Classic lines, thus the name, and are decent sailing boats, not fast, but comfortable and accessible. They are at Jeanneau level, but not better.
Then came the performance range in 2000, good looking boats...but sailing quality...well... its was just acceptable, like before...the newer (after classic range) look like very fast boats, when you look at them, but are stuningly slow. They changed the looks, but the boats were just average in sailing.
The sailing characteristics are still good, they point ok, sail confortably..just lack performance...even the performance ones...to give you an idea, last August, I was dead downwind without spi, just genoa (on pole) and main, racing against a 44 Performance with spi, and racing crew, and I passed him, wining over 18 minutes in a 7 mile run!!
And now (since 2007) the boats look really really nice, Italian hand in the design..can’t beat that…
The newer boats reflect the hand of Italians, ie..look very very very good looks. The New dufours actually are as pretty as Grand Soleils and Dehlers now. So lets see how they sail....they still let the French build them, so it might just be looks again.
In the photo bellow you can see my neighbor a 36 classic.
Intersting thing...the mast, boom and gear...is far better than Benetau or Jeaneau!! They actually use Sparcraft performance masts and spars..Charleston Spars for the American market.
Its still a fairly good boat to own, can do coastal cruising OK, ideal for weekends with the family…just don’t expect speed…ahhh they are very stable and good feel at the rudder, and due to the excellent rig…very well balanced too. Inside the finish is just like Jeaneau, not better. Its the type of get out, trim and forget....
A few site for you:
Dufour prudly anounces (rightfully) that their 40 footer, won the IMS 670 in 2005. But the baot was substantially modified. A feat nevertheless.