For those not familiar with Elan Yachts, allow me to give you the briefest of introductions; the company is based in Slovenia and started out making skis. Those au fait with alpine pursuits will doubtless know this already, as their skis are of some repute. From here, the company used its expertise in laminating to branch out into building yachts. This has meant that visitors to the factory, perched high in the Slovenian Alps and many miles from the sea, are both charmed and baffled by the stunning but geographically bewildering setting of the factory until this quirk is explained.
Anyway, the company has been turning out a fine selection of cruising and racing yachts for many years now; for over 20 years they have worked exclusively with the designer Rob Humphreys to produce the Impression range of extremely practical and comfortable cruising yachts and also the ‘E’ range of performance cruisers. So far so good, but where to go from there? Well, somewhere in between obviously and the first step on that path was to introduce the Elan GT5, a fast cruising ‘grand tourer’ if you will. This was achieved by taking the hull of an Elan E5 racing yacht and putting a new deck on it, plus upgrading the interior and reducing the rig somewhat. Very good it was too. Yet, clearly, the company decided it was time to go a bit further with this concept and the result is the all new GT6 which, unlike its smaller sister, is a new design from the keel up.
This makes the GT6 a big project for Elan; developing a new boat is no laughing matter for a medium sized manufacturer and, make no mistake, Elan has invested heavily to ensure that the GT6 is a fine product. So what have we here, you ask? Well, this is a 49ft yacht designed, as always by Rob Humphreys. The design remit is clearly for a fast yacht; no question of that. The Elan features a T-shaped bulb keel, twin rudders, a chine aft that is actually designed to improve performance, not just increase volume, plus a relatively modest displacement of 12,450kg. For all that, it’s no racer – so what do they mean by grand tourer? Well, they’re not the first to come up with the idea; you could argue that X Yachts pioneered the concept when they introduced the X/C range of fast cruisers that were never intended for racing. It turned out to be an ingenious strategy; after all, what cruising sailor genuinely relishes sailing slowly? So this is Elan’s own take on this concept.
Not only do cruising sailors rarely actively like sailing slowly, few also are thrilled to be the owner of an ugly vessel. Elan were clearly aware of this and, while retaining Rob Humphreys to design the lines of the yacht, they also opted to get Porsche to design the interior, deck and styling of the yacht. If you’re thinking, hang on, that name rings a bell, you’d be quite right. Studio F.A. Porsche was set up by Ferdinand Porsche whose grandfather set up the Porsche car manufacturer. Indeed, it was Ferdinand who penned the lines of the Porsche 911 so there is real pedigree here. You might be thinking, well, what does this actually mean? Well, it’s far more than just a gimmick; by employing an accomplished designer who is coming into the boatbuilding world from the outside, Elan has been able to get a fresh perspective and it shows.
This approach is evident even on first inspection of the new boat. Porsche has looked at the hull and realised that to appreciate form, you need shadows and light. And the topsides have been sculpted accordingly. The deck too is strikingly different. This is a 49ft yacht (47ft in fact, if you don’t count the carbon fibre bowsprit) which has a flush deck forward of the mast. It’s a feature you see frequently on the big blue water cruisers (Contest, Oyster, Discovery, for example) but rarely on sub-55ft yachts. Yet it has been elegantly achieved. The impression is of a yacht that is a little bit different and, yes, a bit special.
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