Car aficionados know that GT stands for Grand Tourismo and that means getting there in a flash, but with style. The Slovenian yard Elan-Yachts, which was taken over by private investors a couple of years, chose this as the guiding principle in the development of a new series of models (see Elan GT5 announced as company rebrands range). The GT5 is Elan’s first yacht to compete in the upscale market segment of performance cruisers. A lot about the GT5 is new, except for the hull, which is shared with the sportier Elan E5 (formerly known as the Elan 400), but was modified for the task by designer Rob Humphreys who extended it a smidgen and added a bit more freeboard.
So they already had a proven hull, but to meet the comfort requirements, Elan had to create a new interior and was inspired by the tried and tested Impression series of deck saloon yachts. The GT5 also has a deck saloon layout below with an athwartships galley that is a step down and forward of the saloon, right up against the main bulkhead. A galley that far from the cockpit might not be the most practical arrangement for long and rough bluewater passages, but that’s not the primary use this yacht was designed for. The market seems to like it and that’s what counts.
New deck, new interior
Of course Elan also had to come up with a new deck and a deck house with a low coachroof, that fits the proportions of this boat, with a good two metres of standing headroom and a good all-round view and a lot of natural light. The surfaces of brushed oak, which was the chosen veneer on the test boat, are particularly pretty and the neat carpentry work can be seen in hidden corners and inside the cubbies and cabinets.
The galley features all the trimmings you’d expect, but also an microwave that rises from the work surface by the push of a button or a glass cabinet with interior lighting. Elan has installed digital light switches and fuses on the GT5 along with USB outlets for charging the various electronic devices that no sailor wants to leave ashore.
There are two stools that go with the saloon table, but can be removed so the dining table can be lowered to create an additional double bunk. Good idea, but the mechanism is a bit tough to operate so this is a job for two. Throughout the living quarters there’s no lack of drawers, storage cabinets or closets, all equipped with a simple but effective closing mechanisms. Also clever is the chart table, which is hidden in a fold-down seat of the starboard couch. It’s a bit small for working with large paper charts, but this won't concern most people as there is space for an iPad or a small chart plotter.
The GT5 is offered with two or three cabins and with one or two bathrooms. Our boat was equipped with two cabins and one large bathroom to aft on the starboard side that was large enough for separate stalls for toilet and shower. A practical necessity is the hatch in the aft bulkhead here that provides access to the large starboard lazarette, which can swallow enormous quantities of stuff. However, getting bulky or large items down from the cockpit can be tricky because the opening under the starboard cockpit seat is rather small. However, the large double bunk in the guest quarters to port is a definite plus.
The owner's cabin in the bow offers plenty of storage space in cubbies and closets as well as under the double berth. Upon request, a second bathroom can be added forward, but that’s much more compact than the one aft and also takes away closet space and one of the two seats.
Comfort with sporty touch
On deck, it is noticeable how Elan tried to preserve some of its performance genetics as evidenced by the fixed bowsprit, which not only makes a good attachment spot for a gennaker, but also doubles as an anchor holder. Halyards and control lines are properly organised and led aft in tunnels, which further adds to the clean look of the GT5. Then lines run all the way aft to both steering stations in the cockpit that was designed to keep the work area aft separated from the lounge area forward.
In the lounge, there are two cockpit tables, with outer table halves that fold or slide down, thus extending the seats to comfortable sun pads. Of course, there is also a fold-down platform at the stern, which is offered in two sizes. But both form a sort of swim dock as they can be lowered to sit right on the water’s surface, which is great for swimming and entertaining children. Behind the two steering stations there are two cockpit boxes that serve as seats and storage space, but as an option, can be equipped with a barbecue and a sink.
The test boat, which was fitted with a slightly overlapping genoa, was suitably set up for two-handed operation, with large winches and rope stoppers within reach of the helmsperson. Sitting sideways on the coaming next to the wheel offered good visibility when steering, even with the sprayhood up, the telltales of the jib also could be seen at all times. To keep the cockpit uncluttered, Elan opted for a compromise with the mainsheet arrangement, which has several pulleys on the coachroof, sans traveler. However, the pulling angles are less effective, which requires a lot of effort when trimming. The solution here would be larger or electric-powered winches.
Agile in a breeze
Under sail, the GT5 showed her performance pedigree, especially sailing to weather in a breeze. That was a bit surprising, given how much weight the cruising equipment and the massive furniture, not to mention a retractable microwave have added to her displacement. She’s listed by Elan at 8.1 metric tons, but that refers to the calculated average light displacement, which means that with full tanks and closets, the reality might be closer to nine tons. In 15 knots of breeze on the Gulf of Trieste and moderate waves, the GT5 was right at home. The construction from GRP sandwich with the infusion of vinyl ester resin felt stiff and showed excellent maneuvered with the twin rudder system. The deep T-keel provided the kind of righting moment that allowed the yacht to sail in the groove, meaning heeled over she was tracking on the chines of her hull with the leeward rudder pointing straight down.
Sitting next to the wheel, keeping things under control required all but two fingers. The weather helm was just pronounced enough for precise steering and with a touch of push current, the speedo showed between 7.5 and 8.3 knots, with apparent wind angles between 40 and 90 degrees. Reaching with a gennaker in these conditions holds the promise of double digit speeds. In this mode at this wind, is pretty clear that this boat is scooting along on a hull that was designed for speed.
However, a day earlier, with less than four knots of wind, the boat struggled through the calms without pronounced heel, so the wide stern literally was stuck to the water. The solution here looks like a roller furling Code Zero that packs the necessary horsepower for sticky conditions.
The GT5 is just the beginning
The test run under engine, a 38-hp Volvo Penta diesel with Saildrive, which is accessible for maintenance when the companionway steps are flipped up, reaffirmed the efficiency of this hull when motoring. The top speed at 2,800 rpm was 8.3 knots. Significantly more economical and more quiet is the operation at cruising speed, which pushes the boat along at 6.7 knots and 1.800 rpms. Working the throttle and wheel with a deft touch, the GT5 can be turned almost on the spot in calm water, even without a bow thruster. Running circles, even at full throttle, came of easy, but caution should be exercised when backing up. As on all boats with pre-balanced twin-rudders, the person at the helm is strongly advised to go slow and grip the wheel tightly to prevent the two rudders from flopping over hard to one side.
On the water the GT5 confirmed the good impression it made at the shows in Paris and Düsseldorf where it was introduced to the public. Even if a little more canvas in light air wouldn’t hurt, the boat can be equipped with various sailing options that are suitable for the respective venue of operation. In view of the tidy build and the thought-out solutions, a base price of €230,000 is appropriate. It was quite a daring leap, Elan made with the Grand-Tourismo concept by putting an upscale cruising package on a performance hull. But at least during this test, this experiment appeared to be a success and it will be exciting to watch how the GT line will evolve in the future.
Elan GT5 specifications
Hull length: 12.41m
Draft (standard/shallow): 2.45/2.2m
Displacement (light): 17,900 lbs
Sail area: Main: 44.6sq m; Jib: 38.10sq m; Gennaker 135sq m
Engine: Volvo Penta 28 kW/38 PS
Fuel: 170 l
Water: 220 l
Designer: Rob Humphreys
Base price: approx €230,000