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Doing it with Elan

European builders are showing renewed interest in the American marketplace. Three boats from Croatian builder Salona Yachts made their U.S. debut at February’s Strictly Sail show in Miami, and now Elan Yachts, from neighboring Slovenia, has announced a push into North America.

European builders are showing renewed interest in the American marketplace. Three boats from Croatian builder Salona Yachts made their U.S. debut at February’s Strictly Sail show in Miami, and now Elan Yachts, from neighboring Slovenia, has announced a push into North America. The new importer for the United States and Canada is the Great Lakes Marine Group, headquartered in Holland, Michigan.

Elan is perhaps better known here for its skis, but GLMG principal Rick Johnson intends to change that. On the boating side, Elan has a strong new line of performance cruisers as well as the Impression line of family-oriented cruising boats, all designed by Briton Rob Humphreys.

Johnson is expecting four boats to arrive in time for the Newport and Annapolis shows this fall: three sporty models in the Elan 320, 360 and 400, and one Impression 444 cruiser.

The three sporty boats share some common traits, aside from the stylish portlight treatments. Each has a bluff bow, a retracting carbon sprit, twin wheels, twin rudders, pronounced hull chines, a T-keel and a fractional rig with a high-aspect mainsail and a jib with minimal overlap. Each boat also packs a powerful masthead A-sail tailor-made for thrillseekers.

“Rob Humphreys has designed everything from Oyster yachts to Volvo 70 racers,” says Johnson. “He knows how to draw a fast, easily handled boat.” Video of the Elan 360’s predecessor, the Elan 350, on the plane at 17 knots accompanied by the hoots and hollers of her racing crew, certainly supports that assertion. Double-digit cruising speeds should be easily within the range of the two bigger boats.

Design is only one aspect of a boat’s performance, and Elan’s build process adds horsepower by cutting weight as far as possible. Laminates are vacuum-infused to ensure optimum resin-to-glass ratios, and composites are used in bulkheads. Belowdecks, the fit-out is obviously biased toward weight saving but accommodations are certainly comfortable enough to cruise between races.

So what’s the competition for these sleek new boats? X-Yachts, J/Boats, C&C, a couple of the new Salonas, the equivalent Firsts from Beneteau, the sportier Dufours, and the new Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 that’s due here in the fall. This market sector is really hotting up…

Meanwhile, the Impression 444 looks a solid, competent cruiser that sits at a sweet spot in the marketplace, size-wise. The hull and appendages are more conservative than those of the performance line, and so is the rig, which, in tandem with the deck plan, is geared toward shorthanded husband-and-wife sailing. Her competitors are more numerous, as this is a well-stocked market segment.

You can learn more about the Elan range at



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