Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.
Design & Construction
From the outside, three things set the Elan GT5 apart from its rivals: the black automotive-like wraparound windows that give the interior light in abundance and a 180-degree view; a pair of black trapezoid windows on either side of the hull; and a distinctive black fairing at the aft end of the coachroof.
The GT5 carries her beam well aft, and the hull includes chines in its aft sections. Given the width of these sections, it’s good to see the boat is also equipped with twin rudders set at a decent angle to provide a good grip on the water as it heels. The boat has a T-shaped keel drawing 8ft. An optional shoal-draft keel is also available drawing 6ft 5in.
Both the hull and deck are vacuum infused around a foam core using vinylester resin, with a single skin in high-stress areas. A sub-frame is bonded and laminated into the hull, as are laminated bulkheads, to enhance stiffness.
Build quality is solid throughout: belowdecks, corner posts, fiddles and locker door edges, for example, are all solid oak. You get the impression Elan has really upped its game with its GT5.
Credit for the design goes to the Rob Humphries office and Elan’s in-house design team, with neither seeming to have been afraid of trying something new. Take the cockpit: it’s long and wide with L-shaped seating on each side. Forward, the coamings are 1ft 8in high, and there are two cockpit tables alongside one another, the outer leaf of each having the option of being lowered, thereby turning the seat into a sun pad.
All lines (with the exception of the furling lines for the headsail) are led into ducting that exits just forward of the twin wheels: the genoa sheets to a winch slightly forward; halyards and a German-style mainsheet to a winch aft right next to the helm. Underneath each helm seat is a sizable rope locker. There is a drop-down swim platform in the transom.
Going down the companionway steps, you’ll find, somewhat surprisingly, that you’re nowhere near the galley. Instead, you’re in the aft end of a beamy saloon with an 8ft-long seat to port stretching toward a galley well forward and running athwartships, with a stove to port and a sink to starboard.
Some might argue having the galley under the mast isn’t the best place for it. And it’s true that if you’re taking coffee, meals or bowls of chips to the cockpit in a big sea, the chances of getting there and not redecorating your saloon are slim. However, this arrangement also makes a lot of sense. For example, being low down in the center of the boat affords a good work surface on either tack. There’s also scads of counter space, which is always nice to see aboard any kind of cruiser. Immediately aft, the saloon table has a handy grab handle inboard, which is visible when the table is folded in half and helps support it when it’s opened out. The table also drops down to make a spacious double berth.
Throughout the saloon, you will find a number of illuminated light switches, so that even when it’s pitch black you will be able to find them without having to stumble around in the darkness. Beyond that, with so much natural light in the saloon, the forecabin actually feels a bit dim—until you switch on the LED strip lights hidden behind the fabric panels to either side, which show off the textured grain of the oak paneling to excellent effect.
Chart tables are becoming almost discretionary nowadays. However, it’s nice to have the option without having to mess with various cushions and locking latches. Elan’s solution to this problem is a simple and elegant one: simply lift and pull on the top of the seat back and the seat base slides up to where the backrest was, leaving the back of the backrest as a work surface for doing your navigation.
A number of different layouts are available, offering either two or three cabins, and one or two heads. With the two-cabin version, you also get a substantial storage area under the starboard-side cockpit bench.
Although in Slovenia for two days, neither provided much in the way of wind out on the Bay of Piran—a real shame because I got the impression that with some wind she could be real performer, although not quite as sporty as Elan’s performance yachts, thanks to a reduction in sail area. That said, sailing to windward with an apparent wind of 6-8 knots, the Elan GT5 made an honest 3 knots at a 30 to 35-degree apparent wind angle. Bearing away to a close reach, the Jefa steering became especially responsive as her speed increased to just over 4 knots in 6.6 knots apparent.
On a beam reach the GT5 kept moving along at 3 knots, again with a true wind of 5 knots or less. After failing to record anything better under white sails, we hoisted the gennaker on the optional fixed carbon sprit (which doubles as an anchor roller) and were able to exceed 5 knots—not bad at all given the light conditions.
For the U.S. market, the GT5 will be fitted with a Yanmar engine available with anything from 30 to 75hp. Our test boat had been equipped with a 55hp powerplant, and at 2,000 rpm with a two-bladed prop she easily made 6.9 knots. With twin rudders, you have to be a bit wary in tight spaces; whether going forward or in reverse the lack of prop wash over the rudders can make things a bit interesting. However, these same two rudders provide a good bite as soon as you can get moving. Bow and stern thrusters are available as options.
Over the years, many manufacturers have missed the opportunity to project their identity. However, with its good build quality, solid performance and cutting-edge styling, the Elan GT5 stands out, not only as the first of Elan’s new GT range but within the European boatbuilding industry as a whole.
LOA 43ft 3in LWL 37ft 1in BEAM 12ft 9in
DRAFT 8ft (standard); 6ft 5in (shoal)
SAIL AREA 897ft
AIR DRAFT 60ft 3in
FUEL/WATER (GAL) 45/58
ENGINE 38hp Yanmar with saildrive
BALLAST RATIO 31 SA/D RATIO 21 D/L RATIO 160
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
DESIGNER Rob Humphreys/Elan Yachts
BUILDER Elan Yachts, Gorenjskem, Slovenia, elan-yachts.com
U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Springline Yacht Sales, Mystic, CT, secureyourdream.com
Price $449,000 (sailaway) at time of publication