The two small towers, a red and a green one, of the lights marking the entrance of Portorosa appear from both sides. The new Elan Gt5 slides over the calm water, sheltered by the gulf especially against borino wind blowing fresh few miles away.
On board, we all share great excitement. It’s the first sea trial of the last project made by Rob Humphreys for Elan Yachts which inaugurates the new Gran Turismo range. The Marketing Manager of the Slovenian shipyard, Matic Klemenc, and the Italian importer of the brand, Luigi Coretti, follow all the preparations details.
The 105% mainsail and the jib immediately go ashore to intercept about 10 knots coming from North-East. And it’s time to realize that we are together an old friend: the surfaces sliding over the sea are the same, only a little more elongated, than those of the Elan S5: effective, stable and reactive.
With an overall length of little more than 13 metres, the new GT5 has a waterline length of 12.41 metres. The hull is just a little longer than that of the S5 but, with the previous model, this boat shares the same sportive waterlines featuring the unmistakable Humphreys’ style.
Once again, the English designer proposes a very performing hull with thin but not exaggerated bow sections and a wide backward beam (3.91 m).
But it’s sufficient to look over the waterline to realize the considerable effort on the innovation plan. The hallmark of the new step this boat wants to imprint on the Elan’s path is represented by the deckhouse which, already from outside, shows the presence of a large bright raised saloon surrounded by large windows.
It’s a hallmark which immediately defines the ambitions of this new project: to maintain the traditional speed and performances under sail of the shipyard but with innovative interiors. The latter are, in fact, wide, bright, well-arranged and with high-quality materials.
Construction technology, too, brings some innovations. The inner structure is always layered and infused but, this time, the structural girder is not built out of the boat but it’s infused together with the hull. Morover, the two structural bulkheads are bundled with both the hull and the deck giving the boat greater rigidity.
From the extreme aft section we can find a series of elements which give a firm character to the boat. Starting from the first impression provided by the cockpit. It’s very large but the high deckhouse and the 50-centimetre-high dodgers make it particularly sheltered.
The transom is made up of a very large swimming platform (2.50 x 67 cm) featuring an electric opening system and including the bathroom stepladder. This zone can be even equipped with a grill and a sink.
During our sea trial, we found the position of the two winches on each side of the cockpit very useful because its allow to reach all riggings while removing the presence of eventual winches on the deckhouse. The double small table, on the contrary, has baffled us.
The positive aspect is represented by the considerable size of the plan once the four doors are all open, together with the possibility to obtain two sun pads by lowering the two external doors to the benches’ level.
However, it’s impossible to close the two inner doors alone and, even if the passage between the two small tables is easy, they maybe represent an excessive encumbrance in the case the owner wanted to exploit the potential of this hull.
Forwards, two elements stand out: the large, lateral and frontal, windows which flood interiors with natural light and handrails, 36 cm wide. It’s not much but shrouds are fixed to the hull freeing a lot of space.
There’s enough room to stowe; in particular, a locker, on the right, is so deep that, maybe, it’s better to create some shelves.
On the extreme bow, two elements suggest the racing spirit of the GT5: the jib-furler barrel, which is recessed in order to provide the jib with more space, and a beautiful bowsprit where to accommodate a 130-square-metre gennaker.
Below deck, the sensations we feel are multiple and different: surprise, curiosity and wellness thanks to the large amount of space and light available.
But our sensations are anchored in precise data and design choices. First of all, interiors are 17 centimetres higher than on the S5. Thus, the dinette welcomes two important innovations specifically designed to obtain so much space: the arrangement of the galley next to the fore bulkhead ( a solution which allows to provide the dinette with the wider part of the boat) and the chart table which can be folded and converted into a seat of the right sofa.
Cabins (two or three with one or two bathrooms) have normal sizes while the bathroom on the starboard side, equipped with a separated shower box, is really wide and well-arranged.
Natural or whitewashed teck and oak woods and clear tissues contribute to enhance the effects of the light entering from the windows.
Some lines above, we left you while we were sailing a large bowline on starboard tack intent on optimizing the performances of both job and mainsail. We immediately return to it. But, before, we have to register our speed under power.
Once the signals marking the entrance of Portorose are behind us, we meet a light breeze and test our speed on a flat sea. The Volvo 55HP engine, equipped with a fixed three-blade propeller, pushes the boat up to 4.5 knots at 1,000 revolutions, with a 8.4-knot crusing speed at 2,300 revolutions.
Despite the turbulent effects of the spinning propeller, we perceive no vibrations.
Finally, it’s time uses sail. A borino wind blows between 10 and 12 knots with some rare peaks of 14-knot true wind. The Humphreys’ hull seems to prefer large bowline. In particular, it likes taking deep breaths, relax and lean on the chine which, in this case, helps the boat to be stable and increase its speed, in addition to providing with more space in the aft sections of interiors.
Wind is light: an about 60-degree true angle. Speed ranges from 6.5 to 6.8 knots. The apparent wind we read on our instruments is 38 degrees. With a 50-degree true wind angle, 10-knot air and flat sea, speed decreases up to 6 knots. We continue to play with speed, which suddendly increases when bora touches 14 knots and lets us sail at over 7 knots with a real angle of 50 degrees.
But the most important feature of this hull is stability. That’s not news. We are accustomed to Rob Humphreys’ balanced waterlines which get immediately affected by a proper sails adjustment. With a slightly superimposed genoa we could avoid those small wheel corrections we sometimes need to make. This extraordinary course holding is accompanied by two rudder blades, the downwind of which is sumberged and centrally located.
Turns are fast and precise. The boat is very reactive and able to recover the entry speed in just 7-8 seconds.
By bearing away (about 130°), speed reduces to 4.8 knots. It’s a real shame the absence of a gennaker which would have certainly given us great performances. What about seaworthiness? In those perfect conditions even my bathtub would have been perfect. But our experience with Elan boats leaves us in no doubt that these boats are perfectly able to stand any sea condition.
Performances (under power)
Performance registered with the following conditions: sVolvo D2-55 engine, fixed three-blade propeller, flat sea, 10-knot cross wind
Performances (under sails)
|True wind degrees
Performance registered with the following conditions: 12-knot true wind, flat sea, mainsail and kib at 105%. 7 passengers; water tank: 50%; fuel tank: 35%
|Humphreys Yacht Design & Elan Design Team