Ready to live the dream? If you’re passionate about an on-the-water lifestyle, you’re in the right spot. Whether you’re a die-hard racer or a laid-back cruiser, owning a yacht is one of the most invigorating and intoxicating experiences life has to offer. From relaxed day sails in the ocean, to exciting races on the Bay, to island-hopping in the sun, the world of boating offers a lifestyle to satisfy all sailing tastes and desires.
Early this year, we tested the new Elan GT5 after her delivery in Portorose, Slovenia. It was a classic test, where the official data issued by the yard were practically compared with boat performance and navigation parameters. On that occasion, our expectations about this Rob Huphreys’ concept and established yard’s build qualities were fully met.
In the light of this information, data and impressions, we set sail from Genoa for a new exciting sea trial. This time, the test covered 200 nautical miles, from Genoa to Marseille, where the Elan GT5 was expected to be delivered to her new owner. Twenty-nine hours of sailing – navigation was carried out both under power and sail – with a night in the middle, under different sea and wind conditions allowed us to get better acquainted with this boat. The following is the chronicle of our experience.
It’s getting dark when we finally arrive in Genoa. The Elan GT5that we must transfer to Marseille is docked at the same pier where she spent the whole Genoa International Boat Show. We climb on board and our bags immediately disappear below deck. Although it is night, we want to inspect deck equipment. So, we reach the cockpit and turn on lights in order to better orient ourselves. Everything is right in front of us: two winches are positioned next to twin wheels and dodgers; halyards and control lines are properly organized and led aft; line stoppers are within reach of the helmsperson while numerous lockers accommodate halyards, sheets and lines by providing additional order and comfort.
We open the transom that, in just a few seconds, becomes a large bathing platform beneath which gas tanks are located in a special compartment while retractable helmsman’s settees raise and unveil the presence of an external refrigerator – highly convenient in summer – on the starboard side and a barbecue grill on the left. The boat is not connected to the charging station, so we test starting. Everything is ok. Now, it’s time for us to descend below deck and get better acquainted with interiors.
Comfortable and livable interiors
Dinnertime has gone and, after our train journey and a long walk from Genoa station to the port where the boat is docked with enough food supplies in our bags, we’re really tired. Consequently, the feeling of well-being that welcomes us is affected by the need to get a breath. However, some objective data come to mind at this early stage.
First of all, cabin height: 17 cm more than the Elan S5. In short, an enormous environment. Then, galley arrangement. The choice to put it next to the fore bulwark immediately sounds good. The dinette is huge and the galley offers a completely separate space. We’re in a port, so everything is simple and still but the fact to have cooking stoves, refrigerator, sink and a great number of lockers on the left side along with an additional fridge and a multitude of storage lockers on the starboard side makes us feel at home, plunged in a wide environment with a lot of shelves and counters everywhere.
Before reaching the two cabins – a three-cabin layout is also available – we are astonished by the bathroom size: wide, with a completely separate shower room, it allows guests to freely moved around. After a little chat, we go to sleep; tomorrow morning, at 6:30, we will leave to Marseille.
Onboard living conditions, between comfort and performance.
We wake up early in the morning. After a quick look at running lights, equipment, engine and weather forecast, we finally cast off at 6:30. The starboard station is equipped with a highly visible chartplotter.We adjust the light intensity of the device and the other indicators positioned on the starboard side of the wheel panel; below deck, we turn lights off and head for the eastern mouth of the port of Genoa.
We’ve already studied the layout of the port before leaving but the chartplotter is a very convenient aid to display our position amongst the jetties of the Fiera and steer appropriately. We go out of the port and head for Hyeres Islands.
For the time on, we’re sailing under power. A Volvo D2 55 makes the boat travel at 8 knots and 2,200 rpm. We would like to save fuel, even if a refuelling stop will be inevitable, so we reduce revolutions to 2,000, while maintaining a speed of over 7 knots. It’s just a matter a time: we perfectly know that, at about 09:00, a fresh north-east wind of over 15 knots will come and probably stabilize at 20 knots for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, on an almost flat sea, I descend to the galley to make breakfast. Rolling is very low and, under these conditions, I can already appreciate a deep sense of protection and stability. The peninsula located on the left side separates the galley from the dinette and offers a well-sheltered counter where to put cups, dishes and coffee cans. Both refrigerators are running at full capacity. We’re sailing under power and we have no problems in fuel efficiency terms. The third, external fridge is, on the contrary, off.
As for interior lights, spotlights arrangement is excellent and, above all, a gentle pressure on switches allows to adjust light intensity to suit different needs and not to disturb the helmsperson at night.
Protected by a wide spray hood, we have breakfast in the cockpit. Air is very fresh but protection is total since the spray hood covers a large portion of the cockpit. We test all the different layouts of the cockpit table. With the external sections open, the central passage remains unclettered. If, on the contrary, even the internal wings are open, the table becomes an ample bulky surface. Unfortunately, in this case, any move is denied and the distance between the two closing levers is such that wings require two people to be closed.
Finally, the wind comes.
As foreseen, at 09:30, a north-east wind starts blowing. We hoist the mainsail and roll the jib. Wind detector has not been installed yet but it is not hard to imagine that the foreseen 15-knot north-east wind is ready to come. Gradually, waves get more and more insidious. The boat slides stably and goes on travelling at a speed of over 7 knots. Our first impression achieved during the last test in Grado is now confirmed. Waterlines designed by Humphreys give the hull great stability. Even under the incessant waves that continuously crash into our starboard quarter, handling is always great.
Hours pass and the north-east wind now becomes a stronger mistral that forces us to sail close to the wind. When we are off of Savona, the boat runs fast, slightly listedbut always stable. Listing is never excessive. In a 20-knot mistral, we sail with a full leeward mainsail and jib. Speed detector displays peaks of 12 knots. However, we realize that it is not interfaced to GPS; the real speed displayed on the GPSranges from 9 to 10 knots.
The leeward blade is well-submerged while the upwind one engenders no friction. Handling is excellent and the helmsperson can work comfortably in his station and adjust the mainsail sheet easily thanks to a winch positioned on the dodger. The autopilot system is very useful and helps to adjust the winch serving the jib sheet.
What we perceive is the certainty that this boat can be steered easily even with no crew on board.
At this point, I descend below deck to test the genuine living conditions. First of all, despite the considerable width of this boat, side handrails enable to descend to the dinette in total safety. Every move is easy and safe thanks to a large number of supports and handrails positioned around the large dinner table.
Near the chart table, I stop to look at the touchscreen monitor where all boat information is displayed. Power, water and fuel consumption levels are all expressed in absolute and percentage terms. All data are clearly legible; the possibility of monitoring is total.
At 13:00, wind finally weakens to a fresh breeze and a calm sea accompanies our travel to Marseille.
Refuelling stop in Sanremo. Night preparation.
At 16:00, we have a refuelling stop in Sanremo. We will sail under power tonight and we have just a little time to buy some bread for dinner. At 17:00, we leave again.
Navigation goes on under power and onboard life manifests itself in all its comfort. Before having dinner, we alternately enjoy a warm shower. Bathroom size doesn’t justify the choice to place a sink that, in our opinion, could be bigger. However, the overall atmosphere makes us feel at home. A door leads to a wide locker which is equally accessible from the cockpit. This is a perfect storage rooms where to accommodate dry raincoats in order to preserve interiors.
Rhythm becomes regular while the engine delivers a speed of over 7 knots. Noise level is good enough in the cockpit and inexistent in the cabin. We sail along Cote d’Azur and Hyeres Islands. We alternatively enjoy our 2-hour watch by monitoring vessel and ferries traffic. Finally, at the crack of dawn, we get Tolone.
We’ve almost reached our destination. The Elan GT5 sails along the French coats and Frioul islands. On the innermost one towers the Chateau d’If, the castle famous for being the setting of Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo. We enter the old port of Marseille and dock in an extremely tight space. We like the reverse manoeuvrability of the Gt5 and, above all, the presence of a very efficient bow thrust. After 209 nautical miles and 29 hours of sailing, covered at an average speed of over 7 knots, the Elan Gt5 gets us to our destination, by proving to be a really fast, stable boat with very high comfort standards.