I first saw the Elan E5 at Las Palmas Marina while waiting for the start of the 2014 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. The boat like many new cruiser racers has a wide transom incorporating a soft chine and had been sailed by an Australian couple two handed through the Med on to Las Palmas and were now doing the 2900 mile ARC race two handed. On being invited on board and having a leisurely chat and a few drinks you notice that the boat is well equipped with a few surprising innovations.
The boat was supplied for this test by Performance Cruising and was brand new off the ship and still having it’s final detailing finished, to the extent that the plastic covers were still on the cushions. Is it strange to say that it had a new boat smell? Two owners with very different needs bought this boat and this was their first time on the water. One owner wanted a cruising boat and one a racing yacht.
This version comes with an optional swim platform, which is a great feature for anchoring off a beach etc, and of course there is a hot/cold shower off
The deck layout is an easy to sail design with the customary twin wheels and a Harken winch package. There is also great access to jammers and turning blocks etc. The rig is by Selden and
sails by Onesails.
All ropes leading from the mast to the cockpit are inset preventing butt cleats. The traveller is also inset. The boat has pop up docking cleats, which will save many a broken toe.
The notable stand out features for me are a fitted jib in haul system, which saves retro fitting for those twilight races and the anchor winch set up with simple push button control and ease of use.
Just aft of the wheels there is a large deep locker, which could probably fit a lift raft or would be good filled with ice and cold beers for a lazy afternoon. But the best feature for me is the small lockers adjacent to the mainsheet winch and steering wheel, for storage of cold drinks, sun cream and your lunch.
Another unique feature is the aft deck seat, which is easily removed to become a gangplank/pasarail set up. Although we don’t have Med mooring in Australia it saves looking for a milk crate to help
step up on to the deck.
This boat comes with the three cabin, two head option, but there is also a two-cabin option. It will easily sleep six. The aft head is quite large and provides ample space with a full shower and a drying rack. The master cabin head is smaller with a fold down sink.
The first thing I noticed on going below is the steps are a gentle slope rather than stepping down a ladder. This is a great design feature.
To starboard is a very large galley considering the length of the boat including separate fridge and freezer, a good size gas stove and oven with a slide away bench top cover. The Nav table is on the small side, but it folds away to make a saloon dining area, which will fit up to eight people.
The electronics are well stowed in a locker above the nav table. The extensive LED lighting is again impressive on this boat. The white interior with different options for timber finish presents a light airy and big volume boat. The three cabins are roomy for this size boat, again with great lighting and a spacious feeling. There is good storage throughout including a deep drawer under the bed in the master cabin. The hanging lockers will easily fit your wet weather gear.
There are many options to choose from but in my mind the essential ones are the anchor winch, swim platform, gangplank/pasarail, bow thruster and a cockpit table. Matt Hayes from Performance Cruising is able to advise on the best options
for your needs.
We picked up the boat from Sydney by Sail – next door to Sydney's Maritime Museum - and it was great to see the progress made in the area. We motored under the harbour Bridge – which is a treat that never gets old and hoisted the main in a 10 knot and building nor-easter. It was a cloudless sky and a standard beautiful day on Sydney Harbour.
We then unfurled the jib and took off. We quickly got up to speed and I found her very responsive with the twin rudders
and light on the helm. Overall she handled well both upwind
and downwind and would be a pleasure to race or cruise. We did not have the asymmetrical sail set up, however, the system with the retractable pole appeared simple and in keeping with the
ease of the rest of the boat.
One of owners is keen to do twilight racing and two handed sailing. I feel he has the perfect boat for these needs. Possibly one of my favourite features was the ease of unrigging. It was done in a matter of three minutes and probably the easiest I have ever experienced. The jib furled effortlessly and the main dropped perfectly into the lazy jacks, no folding required. And we all like to avoid flaking the main.
In general the Elan E5 is a very well thought out design both on deck and below and performed very well. She is the complete package. The interior is stylish but practical at the same time. The deck layout is extremely functional and efficient. Overall the boat will suit both the cruising owner and the racing owner and ticks all the boxes. ✵