Elan 400

2014 November 1

Performance cruiser

This new Elan model was designed by Rob Humphreys in the UK with an interior design by Gigo Design. I’ve been a Humphreys fan for many years. His designs always appeal to my eye, and he has a very good feel for what makes a boat fast. The current European market has been tilting towards performance lately and this new Elan model is a very good example of that trend.


There is nothing unusual in the profile of this hull. The D/L is 146 on the light side of moderate at 16,500 pounds, and the L/B is 3.08, just shy of very beamy. It’s hard to see but there is actually a total of 2 feet 3 inches of overhangs in this boat. To my eye, it looks less than that. I like the gentle and even rocker of the canoe-body profile.

Twin rudders will provide good control when this very wide-sterned boat is heeled over. The draft is 7 feet 10 inches in the standard configuration with a T-bulb keel. Of course there is a chine.

There are four optional interior plans with this 39-foot boat. One layout looks like it is the lightest in terms of complexity and probably oriented more towards the racing sailor. There is a V-berth double and one double quarterberth. The galley is small and the settees are straight benches port and starboard.

The other three layouts all feature a U-shaped dinette to starboard and a more elaborate, more spacious galley. One layout has mirror-image double quarterberth staterooms aft with the head moved a bit forward and what appears to be a mini head in the forward stateroom.

The layout I like best has one aft quarter stateroom, one head all the way aft and a double V-berth forward. If you go for the three-stateroom layout you lose a lot of stowage volume aft. The layouts are well thought out and I like the use of the angled bulkheads aft.

The fractional rig has a SA/D of 21.06. By today’s standards I’d call that a moderate-sized rig. The spreaders are swept  25.2 degrees and the chainplates are outboard on the hull.

This is a far more economical way of mounting chainplates than the old internal “knee” style of mounting. You get away from chainplate leaks and the lack of big overlapping headsails means that there is nothing to be gained by jamming the chainplates inboard. The jib tracks are located on a raised ledge that runs along the edge of the cabintrunk. Note that in comparison to the Marlow-Hunter, the boom is low. This is a very good looking boat to my eye.

The open transom is bridged with a removable seat. Twin wheels allow the helmsman to get well outboard to see the entire luff of the jib while beating. The mainsheet traveler is set into the cockpit sole just forward of the twin wheels. This will annoy some people, but it is by far the best place for the traveler. Primary and secondary winches will make for easy shorthanded sailing as the aft winch is in easy reach of the helmsman. This is a very clean deck finished in a teak or teaklike decking.

I’m not sure why there is this tilt toward performance in the latest European models. I suspect it may be a trickle down from the extreme sailing machines and Volvo-type ocean racers we see in Europe today. I think it is a very healthy trend. I find no enjoyment in going slow when going fast is an option.

The Elan 400 is a good all round, dual purpose design.