The Polyester Revolution
In 1957, young engineer Michel Dufour discovered the new material, polyester. At the time, he was a keen competition sailor with a real passion for yachts, class rules and hydrodynamics. This sparked his idea to build a yacht made of polyester. In 1964, Michel Dufour started to design the “Sylphe” transportable yacht. He took a lot of financial risks to make the yacht, rented a hangar and started to make the “Sylphe” under the aegis of his newly formed company, Le Stratifié Industriel.
At The Heart Of The Industry
In 1965, this avant-garde engineer filled his order book with 20 units. By the following year, the number of orders had grown to 60 units. His business literally rocketed with the launch of the new “Arpège” model, which revolutionised the liveaboard yacht and led to the creation of several new workshops. In 1970, a design office was set up to develop the “Safari”. Production moved to an industrial scale to manufacture more than 300 boats per year from 1971 under the new entity, Dufour SA. The company was now working out of a modern 15,000 m² factory in Périgny, near La Rochelle.
Focus on Performance
In 1971, Dufour launched its “Sortilège” model and the brand reached new heights. Michel Dufour took advantage of the opening of the famous “Port des Minimes” pleasure boat marina in La Rochelle, by founding the Grand Pavois boat show to bring manufacturers in the sector on board. Present on all fronts, he extended his sales network to export to the whole of Europe and created subsidiaries in Italy and the United States. This earned the company the Export Prize in 1973 and gained it recognition as a European leader. This prosperous period saw the birth of the new Dufour 35, 27, 33, 34, 1300, 29, 31, 2800 and 1800 models.
The Brand Steers Toward Luxury
The T7, 3800, 4800 and D28 yachts were designed in the early 1980s, with Dufour Yachts working to create and develop a true brand image. The factory in La Rochelle decided to implement a co-branding strategy and conceived an exclusive partnership with the Lacoste brand. The Dufour Lacoste 42 model was born. Only 12 examples of this model were produced and even now, the model is still recognised for its timeless elegance. In 1988, Dufour Yachts raised the sails a little higher with its Dufour Prestige yachts, which pushed the boundaries of the global sailing industry. The Prestige models are unique and have particularly luxurious and contemporary interiors.
New Concept: Ready-To-Sail Yachts
In 1994, Dufour Yachts revised its image by creating the completely new Dufour Classic range. These models constituted the first fully equipped yachts and represented a real revolution in the sailing industry. With its classically elegant lines and unprecedented interior comfort and smart design, everything on board the Dufour Classic yachts was designed to make cruising as enjoyable as possible.
New Era: Dufour Performance and Grand Large with Umberto Felci
The turn of the century marked the start of the collaboration with the famous naval architect, Umberto Felci. This association saw the creation of the Performance range in 2002 and the Grand Large range in 2003. Whilst the Dufour Performance yachts had a streamlined profile perfect for racing, the Dufour Grand Large yachts were designed for cruising. Continuously revamped since then, these ranges each fulfil a different need to delight all sailing enthusiasts.