The first question to ask about a boat should be, “What is its purpose?” The new Elan 50.1 answers that clearly. It is a long-range cruiser for a couple or family who like to sail efficiently and comfortably and then have a spacious home for living and entertaining at the destination.
It all starts with the hull, a relatively conservative modern design with maximum beam amidships instead of far aft in the more dramatic contemporary Euro style. The deck salon layout with its raised center section opens up a large space for the diesel and vital systems. An accessible engine is a better-maintained engine, vital when you are cruising.
The tall rig with its powered winches and roller furling is simple to handle by a small crew and it provides ample sail power. The big cockpit is split into a working area aft with the twin wheels, mechanical controls and lines plus a larger area forward with twin tables that lower to form lounging pads. One pair of the powered winches is reachable from the helm but the other pair is not, making this a good setup for a couple but not optimal for a singlehander.
The Elan 50.1 was certainly pleasant to sail. We short-tacked through 80 degrees up the Severn river at Annapolis at 6.5 knots in a lovely 12-knot autumn breeze, dodging the traffic easily thanks to positive helm control from the twin rudders. The self-tacking jib was wonderful to windward, but we needed a lightweight foresail to perk up the speed downwind, an easy addition to the sail inventory.
Handling under power was exemplary, with a head-snapping turning circle of less than one boatlength, immediate stopping, and controllable backing. A 2400 rpm throttle setting gave a normal cruising speed of 8.4 knots with a moderate 74 dBA sound level in the cabin. Calm water passages will be swift.
The helm seating was comfortable and the coachroof was low enough to provide excellent visibility in all directions. I like to sit outboard instead of behind the wheel when steering and wished for the optional foot brace to make that position more secure.
Unlike other boats, the Elan 50.1 has two drop-down stern platforms, a small one and a large one, so you can have either a minimal dinghy dock or an expansive swimming platform.
The interior layout is thoughtful, comfortable, open, and bright. The unusual forward transverse galley surrounds the cook at the spot of minimum motion, perfect for sailing offshore. There’s also a proper nav table amidships. All the joinery has Iroko wood veneer surfaces with solid wood trim, which I found attractive.
Two of the three interior layout options feature a unique forward cabin that can be split in two with a movable partition, like a solid Shoji screen. Sailors with guests and families with several children could find this a useful feature.
The Elan 50.1 is a handy, comfortable vessel that will let its owner cruise along the coast or actually make the leap across an ocean. It can do either job well.
LOA 49’ 10” LWL 45’ 2”
Beam 15’ 4”
Draft 7’ 4” (standard), 6’ 1” (shoal)
Displacement 28,367 lbs
Ballast 9,920 lbs (standard), 10,582 (shoal)
Sail Area 1,197 sq ft (100% Foretriangle)
Power 75hp / 80hp diesel
Designer Humphreys Yachts Design & Elan Design Team
Price $608,628 base, $898,628 as tested