A Touring MACHINE
Built in the Alps for life at sea, ELAN’S GT5 was designed from the keel up to cruise in comfort.
As far as test sails stack up, a ride on Elan Yachts’ new GT5 late one sunny morning this past spring proved memorable. First and foremost, of course, was the boat. The GT5 — GT stands for Grand Turismo — is the first in a new Rob Humphreys-designed range that melds the Slovenian builder’s race-tested performance hulls with all the creature comforts and space that a deck-saloon cruising layout can afford.
With twin wheels and rudders, and a sporty T-shaped keel that carries the weight where you need it most — down deep — the boat handled like a sports car on mountain roads. We started the day in relatively calm conditions. Still, in about 7 knots of breeze, we sailed upwind at 5 knots, and gained another couple on the speedo as the wind built to about 12 knots.
The venue for our sail was remarkable as well. On starboard tack, Croatia lay dead ahead; coming about to port, we could have easily reached Trieste, Italy, in time for a late lunch. Though Slovenians claim 26 or so miles of twisting coastline, either neighbor is just a short but lovely straightline sail away.
Speaking of mountain roads, we began our day with a tour of Elan’s sprawling yard, nestled tight against the snow-covered Alps in the small rural town of Begunje na Gorenjskem (see “From Mountains to the Sea, page 90). From there, we jumped in a car and drove a couple of hours to the Adriatic coast and Marina Portoroz, where the GT5 sat stern-to at the end of a busy dock, one of several located inside an impressive stone breakwater.
Our host, Matic Klemenc, marketing manager for Elan Yachts, nimbly leapt across the couple of feet of open water between quay and transom to lower (thankfully) the boat’s teak-covered swim platform so a colleague and I could easily step aboard. Our path led us between twin wheels aft, where all the sailhandling takes place, and forward
into the main portion of the cockpit, where drop-leaf tables to either side kept the centerline free and open.
As Klemenc got the boat ready for departure, I took a tour below.
The four flat companionway steps lacked nonskid but were not steep and were easily negotiated when headed below. Once there, the height of the cabin house that at first blush had looked slightly out of scale from afar, provided an impressive amount of living space, a trade-off I’m willing to accept.
The boat’s natural teak woodwork and white ceiling gleamed in the light that poured in though the deck saloon’s tinted ports. They provide a 180-degree view forward and to the sides.
The 43-foot-3-inch GT5 shares a hull mold (thanks to a bolt-on extension) with Elan’s 39-foot-2-inch S5 and E5 models, both performanceoriented sailboats. These hulls feature a plumb bow, fine entry and beam that flares amidships and is carried aft on pronounced hard chines that deliver stability and interior volume. To make the most of the space below, the team at Humphreys Yacht Design inverted the traditional saloon layout to position the galley forward against the main bulkhead. The result is entertaining and living space that takes full advantage of the boat’s 12-foot-8-inch beam.
The GT5’S interior comes in four layouts, with two or three cabins and one or two heads. The boat we sailed was, I thought, quite functional for a couple with occasional guests. In the visitors cabin, to port and aft of the companionway, a sprawling berth stretched inboard, over the engine compartment. To starboard of the stairs was the sole head and shower, with access to an enormous locker under the starboard cockpit settee. In the V-berth, the owners accommodations included a queen-size centerline berth with settees aft and to either side, followed by a pair of large hanging lockers.
A third guest cabin could replace the storage locker aft, and owners could give up the port locker and settee forward if they desired a private en suite head and shower.
Just aft of the main bulkhead sat the galley, where a cook could whip up meals and still be in on the action. There was a two-burner gimbaled Eno stove and oven to port, and nearby, with the flip of a switch, a microwave oven rose from an opening in the countertop. A large single sink and refrigeration was to starboard.
Moving aft, the dining table with a folding leaf and L-shaped settee occupied the port side of the saloon; a shorter settee with a nav station at its forward end sat opposite. With the table’s leaf folded closed, its support amidships provided an excellent and rugged handhold — a nice touch. For relaxing, or to accommodate guests, the table dropped to create another large berth. Numerous overhead hatches and side ports opened to let the breeze blow through.
More lounging space was available topside thanks to leaves on both cockpit tables that drop and open to turn the adjacent benches into sun beds. The cockpit itself was laid out with a shorthanded crew in mind. Sail control
lines — sheets for the 107 percent genoa and conventional main included — were led under the deck to a pair of winches at each wheel (for the record, the helms were silky smooth thanks to Jefa steering). I found it easy to move from side to side and tack the boat myself. Though the cockpit coamings were tall, providing good back support, they were easy to step over when going forward.
A belowdecks furler kept the pointy end clean of clutter, and its drum appeared to be easily reachable in the deep anchor locker. The boat we tested came with an optional combination anchor roller and composite bowsprit for off-the-wind sails. The boat also carried a windlass, all items that most cruisers would want. Other possible options of interest to long-range sailors include increased tankage for water (from 66 to 140 gallons); fuel (50 to 124 gallons); and choice of engines: either a 40-horsepower Volvo or 45-horsepower Yanmar are standard, with upgrades to 50 and 57 horsepower, respectively. The boat I sailed had the 50-horsepower Volvo.
Elan infuses all of its hulls using multidirectional fiberglass, closed-cell foam core and vinylester resin. The GT5’S main bulkhead was also infused and laminated in place, as was the composite grid that carries rig, keel and engine loads.
All-in-all, I thought the GT5 delivered a lot of little luxuries for a boat that, relatively well equipped, you could sail away for about $350,000 here in the States (base price, delivered to the U.S., is $294,774). With the company actively building out its North American dealer network, and considering its many years of collaboration with Rob Humphreys, the new flagship from Elan is certainly worth a look if you’re in the market for a cruising boat that promises some get-up-and-go.
A lighted storage area for glasses was a nice touch in the galley. Large deck-saloon ports provided excellent visibility below, as did ports in the hull for when seated.