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Boat Review: Elan GT6

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Elan’s first sporty “Grand Turismo” yacht, the 43ft GT5, launched in 2017, and was actually a bit of a mash-up. It combined an existing go-fast hull from Elan’s sexy E5 racer with a new deck and interior optimized for cruising comfort, and a somewhat detuned rig to create a modern, fun-to-sail cruiser. In this latest offering, the veteran Slovenian builder has upscaled its GT concept to 49ft, but started with a clean slate: a new design from the ground up, with all new tooling. For the boat’s hull design and naval architecture, Elan handed the pen to Rob Humphreys, their go-to man for the last quarter-century. To ensure the boat’s aesthetics are first rate, they also turned to Studio F.A. Porsche, the iconic auto brand’s Austrian design affiliate. The result? Among other accolades, the boat was chosen as a SAIL’s 2022 Best Boat winner in the 40-50ft monohull cruising category.

Design & Construction

This is Porsche’s first stab at making a boat look good, and, I have to say, they have done a fine job. The GT6 is quite an attractive vessel. Compare its exterior appearance to the older GT5, and you’ll see Porsche retained key design elements—including the distinctive wraparound deckhouse window treatment, the bold black stripe at the aft end of the coachroof, the fixed black carbon bowsprit.

Elan was one of the first builders to incorporate modern racing hull features, like broad hard-chined sections aft and twin rudders, into its cruising boat designs and happily continues the trend here. Its production standards are also a cut above average, as Elan’s 3D VAIL vacuum-infusion process allows for tight lamination control. The hull and deck are cored with closed-cell foam set up in a polyester laminate with a vinylester skin outside to resist osmosis. Bulkheads and the keel grid are fully glassed into the hull to create a stiff unitary structure, and the ballast is lead.

On Deck

Cockpit ergonomics are generally good. The high coamings forward provide great back support, and the twin fixed cockpit tables boast well-positioned handrails that make great bracing points when seated or working the boat. They are also quite versatile, and with their four folding leaves can be arrayed in various ways, including as a very large, lowered sunbed surface. The low-slung pedestals for the twin wheels aft look very cool, but you might wish they had some ugly tall granny bars on top to grab onto when things get bouncy.

The fold-down transom abaft the wheels allows easy access to the water and, if you opt for a grill and fridge in the helm seats, makes for a great outdoor galley. There’s also a storage space beneath the cockpit for stashing a liferaft canister and deflated tender.

All control lines from the mast and headsail furler are led aft below the deck to two pairs of Harken Performa 60 winches positioned within easy reach of each helm station. The tails of the double-ended mainsheet are also led here. This makes for a total of five working lines running to each helm, and though there are fair-sized bins to contain all the spaghetti, you do need to be organized to keep things flowing smoothly. One very nice touch is the fact that the line tunnels under the deck have inspection hatches over each turning block, so any tangles or hockles are easy to clear. The only lines running aboveground are the sheets for the headsail, which run to conventional tracks on the sidedecks.

Ergonomics forward of the mast, in the modern style, are less than optimal. There is nary a raised feature of any sort to cling to the super-sleek flush foredeck, and the gunwales are shallow. There are nevertheless two places to visit: the anchor locker, just behind the Furlex belowdeck roller-furler, and a modest-sized sail and gear locker, just behind the anchor locker.

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Accommodations

Porsche’s clean and fluid aesthetic is especially prevalent below. The light oak joinery is nicely finished, and an attractive, very useful “belt,” as Elan calls it, of locker space runs the length of the interior just below the hull and deck joint. Overall, the saloon presents a very pleasant space, thanks to all the natural light pouring in through the large deckhouse and hull windows.

My favorite feature was the galley, which is arrayed across the breadth of the boat just forward of the saloon. There’s a great deal of space to work here, with a Techimplex three-burner stove, an Isotherm fridge and freezer, and a narrow counter arrayed to port and a sink and much more counter space to starboard. There’s also a wealth of useful storage space. One feature missing from the saloon is a fixed dedicated nav space.

The aesthetic of the saloon carries on nicely into the master stateroom forward, where you’ll find, scads of storage space and generous headroom. There’s a comfortable island double berth here with an en suite head and separate shower space. Our test boat came equipped with twin staterooms aft, both with decent headroom and very nice over-berth clearance. The boat can also be specced with a single aft stateroom to port and a workshop/storage space to starboard.

Under Sail

The rig on the GT6, like the rig on the GT5, is somewhat depowered in the interest of ease of use. The Selden aluminum mast, for example, is a tad shorter than it might be, and the boom is set high, to accommodate a generously tall dodger beneath it. Similarly, the mainsheet runs on a bridle rather than a traveler. Still, the boat is designed to sail well. The rig is slightly fractional, backstay tension is adjustable, it carries a proper working jib. (A slightly overlapping 100 percent blade comes standard.) You can also easily fly a big A-sail off that tasty bowsprit. Though our test boat carried heavy systems, like a Fischer Panda gen-set and three-zone air-conditioning, it also flaunted a nice set of optional laminated sails.

Conditions during our test sail off Annapolis, Maryland, were only light to moderate, but in just 8 knots of breeze we could point up to a 38-degree apparent wind angle making good 5.5 knots of speed. This in the heavier shoal-draft version of the boat, drawing 6ft 6in instead of the standard 8. When the wind piped up to 13 knots, we scooched up a bit higher and added 2 knots of speed. We had no A-sail aboard, but were still able to keep the boat going 5.5 knots on a broad reach in just 10 knots of true wind.

Helm feel throughout was excellent—neutral and very grippy, thanks to those twin rudders. When the wind piped up to its strongest, topping out at 16 knots true, I turned on to a beam reach, strapped the sails in tight, heeling hard, and never felt the helm load up at all. In a moderate to strong breeze, I am sure this boat will be a blast to sail, with no worries about losing control.

Under Power

Our test boat carried the GT6’s standard 60hp Volvo Penta diesel engine with a saildrive. This had no problem moving the boat along at around 7 knots at a cruise setting of about 2,200 rpm. Three other engines are available: a 57hp Yanmar, a 75hp Volvo Penta and also an 80hp Yanmar. Fuel capacity is not enormous, so I’d be inclined to stick with the standard powerplant. With its twin rudders, the boat steers very well, turning full about in its own length. Backing down, once the boat is moving, steering is smooth and predictable.

Conclusion

This is a great looking, fun-to-sail, very comfortable cruising boat with build quality a cut above that of most mass-production boats. Compared to other high-quality performance cruising boats from Europe, it represents a very good value. 

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Specifications

LOA 49ft 8in

LWL 44ft 3in

Beam 14ft 7in

Draft 8ft (std); 6ft 6in (shoal)

Displacement 27,447lb (std); 27,932lb (shoal)

Ballast 8,598lb (std keel); 9,083lb (lead shoal)

Sail Area 1,174ft2 (100% foretriangle)

Fuel/Water (GAL) 80/132

Engine Volvo Penta 60hp diesel w/saildrive

D/L 141 SA/D 21

Ballast Ratio 31

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

Designer Rob Humphreys/Studio F.A. Porsche

Builder Elan Yachts, Goernjsken, Slovenia, elan-yachts.com

Base price $625,759 at time of publication

April 2022

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