Elan Yachts made a big splash two years ago with its GT6 performance cruiser. Soon there will be a new version optimised for ocean cruising
If you are the type of person who likes to go off the beaten track, or have a desire to venture into the wild – well, here’s a tool for your dreams. As the name implies, the Elan GT6 X is still a GT6, which means a stylish, Porsche-designed sport cruiser just below 50ft overall, with the power to go fast, even in lighter conditions. Launched in 2021 as the new Elan flagship, the GT6 is a goodlooking boat that will turn heads in any harbour – actually it was the first sub-50ft yacht of its kind to feature a flush deck. The low-profile deck house is another central feature.
But the new Explorer version is a special kind, that addresses a deep longing in a lot of sailors today. Think of it as a four-by-four model – a go anywhere vessel. Almost any boat can do the ARC. But this one is built to do more than that.
Think of The Arctic, desolate, stormridden oceans, with arrivals at anchorages where icebergs and polar bears are more frequent than rum punch bars. This boat will take you there. How about crossing the vast Pacific Ocean, where the nearest marina could be a thousand nautical miles away? If you can do it, this boat surely can. Feel free to continue the list of potential adventures yourself – if this is your thing, you probably have your own specific mental images to add.
Elan Yachts says the new Explorer version of its GT6 will be suitable for cruising in the high Arctic or crossing the Pacific Ocean without needing to stop for fuel, water or provisions
The Slovenian Elan boatyard holds a unique position on the market, in terms of quality of materials, craftmanship, design and composite work. It is an established brand known for producing boats that are easy and rewarding to sail, at a very competitive price. For decades they have had a close collaboration with world renowned UKbased Humphreys Yacht Design, and their skills have ensured efficient, fast and stable hulls. This one has twin rudders, a T-bulb keel and chined hulls, all traits known from the Volvo offshore racers that really put Humphreys Yacht Design on the map. These features were first introduced into the performance cruiser category by Elan and Humphreys in the multiple award-winning Elan 350 and have since become industry standard.
But the big novelty of the GT6 was the design partnership with Studio F.A. Porsche. The car industry has inspired boatyards in several ways, especially for the last decade, and this collaboration has produced a boat that, according to sailing journalists, not only looks good, but also feels right and performs.
Good looks are not a small thing: The joy and pride of looking at your boat with pleasure is something very valuable in itself. But a multiple award-winning design studio will obviously know that form and function must go hand in hand.
An example could be the chines, which are integrated with trapeze-shaped hull windows. At first glance, this is visually pleasing, but seen from the inside the idea has a function: The windows are recessed and able to spread a flow of natural daylight over the interior. Also, the feeling of being in close connection with the sea, even when below decks, is much more tangible when you have a view over the surroundings when sitting in the saloon or lying in the bunks.
The interior aims to combine practical seagoing utility with high-end design, handcrafted furniture and state-of-the-art technical systems and equipment
The design team has not only focused on style, luxury and atmosphere, but also made sure the boat works in real offshore conditions. The forward-facing galley is positioned directly above the keel, the yacht’s most stable area. The galley is built for long trips, with a large, protected countertop and loads of storage. The galley area can be customised and equipped with the owner’s personal needs, when it comes to modern amenities such as dishwasher, front-loading refrigerators, freezing compartment etc. The Porsche designers have created a yacht feeling known from even bigger boats, with oak wood surfaces, carefully arranged ambient lighting and soft rounded corners.
The three-cabin interior has an alternative: A two cabin option, where the starboard aft cabin is transformed to a wet and dry storage/workshop area, accessible both from cockpit and interior. This is a feature that really contributes to a blue water vessel – long voyages are often done with a small crew, and being able to access and service equipment is crucial. You can even install a washing machine in there!
The cockpit area is an even better example of how the merging of form and function can end up with something that works in new ways: With a beam of almost four and half metres, the cockpit is huge and situated lower than a lot of traditional bluewater cruisers, known for elevated centre cockpits. The necessary protection is instead taken care of with high coamings, sprayhood, bimini and wide side decks. This provides a more Mediterranean experience, making the yacht suitable also for other styles of sailing, even the ones including a barbecue and sunbathing on the bathing platform.
The carbon composite cockpit arch is not just an aesthetic design feature. Protection from the elements is a real need in the conditions this boat is built for, and the arch serves as a stable framework for a bimini or cockpit tent, and also holds the main sheet. At the stern, an optional dinghy/solar arch provides sustainable power and makes the dinghy easy to stow and service. In desolate areas, power supply is hard to find, and the dinghy is your lifeline to shore. Having a well-thought-out system for the dinghy is something that will be appreciated, as soon as you start using anchorages instead of marinas.
The name says it quite clearly: The Explorer is for sailors who want to explore. But at the same time, this is not an extreme boat in any way. The design brief was to combine practical maritime utility with high-end design, build it using the latest in GRP composite technology, and provide it with hand-crafted furniture and the whole spectrum of modern equipment. Still, there are a few special features that make this boat especially adapted to life on the high sea. Let’s take a closer look at what they are:
When you set out on the open ocean, safety is the number one consideration. And the structure of the hull itself is what ultimately keeps you safe. The Elan GT6 X hull is a monolithic structure, which means it’s one, continuous composite body with laminated bulkheads, stringers and stringer supports integrated into the hull itself. All load bearing elements are laminated into a seamless unit.
3D VAIL construction
This is done through a process called 3D VAIL – 3D Vacuum Assisted Infusion Lamination. It can be seen as next generation vacuum infusion sandwich construction, and Elan offers the option of replacing polyester with vinylester. The output is a robust, stiff, osmosis-proof, and lightweight hull. A major additional safety feature is fully laminated bulkheads in both ends of the boat, fortified back and front to create real, watertight compartments. An even bigger safety factor is the keel attachment. Extra care is taken by integrating the top of the keel to the reinforced hull in a trapezoidal pyramid keel mount, with U profile keel mounting plates, especially designed to improve load distribution and mitigates hull damage in emergencies, making it stronger and more capable of taking a hit.
Large arrays of solar panels can be installed on the coachroof and on a separate gantry mounted over the stern
These are all invisible things, as the case is with a lot of central features in a sailing boat. Looking at the visible side, the inner forestay makes offshore sailing safer and more efficient – the staysail/J3 installation includes the necessary deck and mast reinforcements, as well as a padeye. A self-tacker system and control lines led under deck to winches and clutches close to the steering position ensures easy shorthanded operation. There are no winches or lines cluttering the space around the companionway. The yacht has a singlehanded design, which means that no one has to move out of the way in the cockpit in order for the skipper to be able to manoeuvre the boat, as all winches and lines are available at the helm position. When shore supplies are few and far between, on board storage and sufficient energy becomes more than just a question of comfort. You simply need it to be able to reach your dream destinations. The fuel tank on the GT6 X is 500 litres, and the battery bank can carry up to 840Ah – lithium if chosen. An optional solar installation of well over a kW (nominal) sustainable, free power, and a likewise optional generator with a capacity of 6,4 kW will take care of power needs. Add to that a large watermaker, combined with the standard 300-litre water tank, and you will have a vessel capable of crossing any ocean nonstop.
Diesel, electric or hybrid?
Among the numerous options, Elan GT6 X can be delivered with electric propulsion. An OceanVolt system with a 25kW High Power ServoProp motor, driven by a battery bank with a stunning 62.4 kW capacity (if you choose to go all the way). OceanVolt is the market leader in this area, and the system can regenerate power through the servo prop. If you add a 15kW generator, the boat will morph into a full hybrid yacht. The standard engine is a 57HK Yanmar, with an option to upgrade to 80HK. Production will start in 2024.
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