Elan GT5By Samuel Jefferson

Ample beam carried well aft makes for a really roomy cockpit.

The introduction of X-Yachts’Xc range in 2008 has proven itself to be something of a game changer within the industry – particularly among manufacturers designing cruiser/racers. The Danish manufacturer essentially rebooted the market with the concept of a fast, sporty yacht, yet one with no racing pretensions whatsoever. In automotive terms, it’s the equivalent of a ‘grand tourer’ of the waves and, unsurprisingly, other manufacturers have tapped into this new genre.

 

The latest offering in the new genre is the Elan GT5, from the popular Slovenian boatbuilder with a fine name for producing rapid yachts. The new boat is designed by Rob Humphreys, who has a long-standing partnership with Elan Yachts, and takes her basic hull shape from the Humphreys-designed Elan S5, which is a yacht that definitely sits at the racier end of the cruiser/racer spectrum. Given that this is the case, the GT5 has undergone some extensive surgery in order to tame the wilder side of this rapid yacht. The key changes are an increase in freeboard with a couple inches added to the topsides. She’s also slightly longer than the S5, with her hull length measuring in at 40-foot 8-inches as opposed to 39-foot 2-inches for her sportier sister. She’s also a good 1,000kg heavier. The coachroof has been substantially altered, with a much higher deck line dominated by a huge wraparound portlight. While interrupting Swimthe previously sleek deck line, the benefits in terms of light and space are obvious. Combine this with a more luxurious interior and detuned rig set up, and you have a yacht that is a different beast from the S5.

A generous full width swim platform is your beach when cruising in warm climes.

GalleyThe interior layout offers a break from the norm with the galley set forward of the main living area.

In terms of construction, she remains sporty, utilizing vacuum-infused vinylester in the hull and deck, while bulkheads laminated into both deck and hull provide extra stiffness and strength. Humphreys designs his yachts with plenty of beam carried well aft, a single hard chine, and twin rudders. The rig remains roughly the same size, although the mast is now deck stepped and the boom has been raised slightly to accommodate the raised coachroof.

Cruising Refinements
Step aboard and the concessions to the cruising sailor are clear to see; the mainsheet is now situated on the coachroof and the cockpit is dominated by a pair of large tables that offer excellent bracing points in what is essentially a very beamy cockpit. The outermost leaves of these tables drop down to form a double-width lounging area which, combined with the raised coamings at the forward end of the cockpit, form a very comfortable and enclosed lounging area. At the stern you have the option of a single or double-width swim platform - the latter enclosing you in nicely – while the cockpit seats double as lockers with the option of one of the pods being fitted with a barbecue area, replete with sink.

Seating

The L-shaped seating area in the saloon can be converted into an extra berth by dropping down the saloon table.

Light Fantastic
It’s when you head down below that the Elan really makes you sit up and realize that this is a very different boat from the S5; there are simply masses of light down there, while the brushed oak interior also gives the yacht a really pleasant feeling of space. Elan has managed to do something slightly different with the layout by setting the galley forward of the main living area just tucked behind the forward bulkhead and spanning the width of the cabin - with the cooker to port and the sink and refrigerator to starboard. It’s a layout that works remarkably well and what it means is that the main living area is in a much beamier part of the boat than usual, buying you extra space. Meanwhile, as an added bonus, the galley is in the narrower forward section meaning it feels more enclosed and more comfortable to work in when at sea.

Other than that, you’re looking at a pretty standard layout for a 40-foot yacht. There are three options cabin wise, with the choice of either two doubles aft or extra storage to starboard, and also the option of an en suite forward or just one head/shower off the saloon. The GT5 also features a clever flip out chart table, which is integrated into the starboard side settee and pulls out by flipping a section of the seat through 180 degrees. The quality of the veneers on the bulkheads and interior fittings is evidently very high. There are some other nice touches, such as the brushed aluminum electrics panel, that rather set this yacht apart from many production yachts.

Elan GT5 Saloon

A light oak finish combined with masses of natural light makes for a very bright, airy living space.

Under Sail

I tested the GT5 out in Portoroz, Slovenia, and the Adriatic delivered a classic day featuring a total lack of any sort of breeze in the morning. It took several hours before the elements wheezed into life and delivered a few fickle puffs to ruffle the glassy waters. By lunchtime, there was a ten-knot breeze and this was deemed adequate. I was intrigued to see how the GT5 would perform in these conditions, given that her wide beam aft looked like it might make her a bit sticky in light airs. Combine that with the extra 1,000kg of weight compared with the S5 and I thought the fluky breeze might trip her up.

Happily, this was not the case. Possibly in breezes beneath ten knots the GT5 might be caught out, but most cruisers will be starting the engine by then anyway. Ultimately, the performance far exceeded that of most cruising yachts in this size bracket. She was quick off the mark and once on her chine, she trucked along beautifully on the wind. Off the wind, her hull shape and twin rudder format means she has the potential to absolutely fly in the right conditions. As the afternoon progressed, the breeze started to hit 15 knots and the GT5 responded well, accelerating up to 8.2 knots on a close reach. The twin rudders gave her a nice planted feel - there was no weather helm and no requirement for reefing. Yet by cruising standards, it’s essentially a lot of fun, playful, and rapid. She’s also eminently manageable for a couple or even a single-hander. The other key consideration with a twin rudder yacht is how she performs in reverse under engine – often an Achilles heel on yachts with this configuration. I can confirm, however, that she was well mannered and manageable in reverse.

Cockpit DiningTwin tables in the cockpit are unusual but it's a configuration that works well by creating a useful walk through down the middle of the yacht.

Conclusion
Elan Yachts has always had a strangely split personality when it comes to its range. On the one hand, their S range is extremely sporty; on the other hand, their Impression range is aimed squarely at providing as much volume and comfort as possible. With this in mind, few companies require a middle ground more, and the GT5 is more than just a de-tuned S5. I was very impressed with the quality of the fit-out and the interior was thoughtfully designed, with as many innovative touches crammed in as I’ve seen in a good while.

ChartThe flip out chart table is integrated into the saloon settee.

Price:
Base: $218,000
As tested: $307,000

 






Specifications:

Length Overall: 43’ 3” (13.2m)
Length Waterline: 37’ (11.58 m)
Beam: 12’ 9” (3.9m)
Draft (standard): 8’ (2.45m)
Optional keel: 6’4” (1.83m)
Ballast: 5,952lbs (2,700kg)
Displacement: 18,300lbs (8,300kg)
Sail area/displacement ratio: 19.88
LWL/Displacement: 145
Water Capacity: 58gals (220l)
Fuel Capacity: 44.7gals (170l)
Engine: Volvo Penta or Yanmar
Mast height: 60’4” (18.38m)
Mainsail: 44.6 m2 (480sq ft)
Jib: 38.1 m2 (410sq ft)
Gennaker: 135 m2 (1463sq ft)


Contact: www.elanyachts.com

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One summer I sold ice cream and knick-knacks at Montague Harbour Marina. I was standing behind the counter one day, when the phone rang. “There’s a boat at anchor in the middle of the bay that’s been playing loud music for three hours,” complained an irate-sounding male voice. “Can you make them stop?”

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