To say that Michel Dufour was a pioneer in European cruiser-racer development during the 1960s is under-stating the case. The La Rochelle-based builder and designer fairly exploded on the scene, first with the 21ft 9ins Sylph in 1964, and then the all-conquering 30ft Arpege in 1966 writes WM Nixon.
Originally he was an engineer, building rolling stock for French railways. But as fibreglass was introduced for carriage panels and a steadily increasing number of other parts, as a sailing enthusiast he saw its potential for boat-building, and he literally bet the house that he could design and build a small glassfibre performance cruiser with commercial potential.
The first buyer was a sailor from northern France called Dominique Trentesaux, who was soon winning races with his little Sylph. As the winner of the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race was one Gery Trentesaux, we can only guess that seagoing success is in the Trentesaux genes.
But with the highly successful Sylph being followed by the stratospherically successful Arpege back in the 1960s, Michael Dufour had set himself an exceptionally standard of innovation which was challenging to maintain, and not all subsequent models matched the brilliance of the first to boats.
However, the Dufour 29 - which was built between 1975 and 1984 - proved to be a reliable standard bearer. She benefitted from experience gained with the Arpege, and provided many happy owners with satisfying sailing. At just over 29ft LOA, she has a waterline length fractionally over 25ft which, with a beam of 9ft 8ins, provides an impressive amount of boat for the size range.
Unlike the Arpege, which had a distinctly pinched stern, the Dufour 29 has sufficient width aft to provide a notably commodious cockpit, but as the temptation to install quarter berths was resisted, the cockpit has notably roomy lockers.
Yet this is a boat built in 1979, when all is said and done. So the owner in Kerry – who is selling through Crosshaven Boatyard – is asking just €10,000. It’s a lot of boat for the buck, and she comes with a 2006 13hp Volvo diesel. For most of the population of Ireland, she’s a long way away, as she’s in Cahirsiveen. But when you think that in summer tourists flock to the Ring of Kerry, a winter visit in a spell of milder weather might find the perfect boat for your needs. Full advert here.