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The Elan 350, winner of the 2011 European Yacht of the Year Award
Photo: Waterrkampionen NL

The Elan brand expresses clear values, representing a careful balance between performance and cruising capability that can make sense in a family’s lifestyle choices. To introduce new thinking into the range is to put that brand strength at risk, and it was only after some very careful calculation that the Elan 310 was launched into the range. With the model’s twin rudders, powerful chined hull form and T-keel configuration the market might have construed that this was a seismic shift for Elan, away from the cruising component of its core ethos. Of course, such a perception would have been quite wrong because the very features the Elan 310 brought into the mix – incredible directional stability, increased sail-carrying power, effortless addition of speed – represent more of the same in terms of user-friendliness, and as such further enhanced the cruising scope of the boat. The Elan mantra of dual-capability would be as strong as ever.

As it turns out the market has seen it exactly as intended, and the 310 has been a runaway success for Elan even in these testing economic times. In consequence, the ‘what next?’ question was a relatively easy one to answer, and the new Elan 350 is in many ways an affirmation of the design choices taken earlier, confirming that the Elan 310 is not an individual outlyer in the range but a core member.
The characteristics that made the 310 special are also embodied in the 350, but in a size of boat that has been particularly popular over the years. It is a size that is small enough to be manageable for a small crew – a husband and wife, for example – but to have real sea-going capability and a turn of speed that will be considered exceptional in a boat of this category. In statistical terms, the 350 is relatively lighter for her length than the 310, and the sail area : wetted surface ratio also greater. It amounts to a sparkling speed potential but this blistering performance will be rendered user-friendly by the same steering qualities and course integrity as her smaller sister’s. In the bigger boat, however, with its lavish cockpit the standard steering arrangement is a twin wheel layout, replicating the sort of ergonomic arrangement that one might have considered possible only in a boat over around 40ft overall.

The powerful aft quarters that will give the Elan 350 her power and pace will also engender her with an unrivalled cruising accommodation, with a really spacious aft cabin and generous heads compartment, and an aft stowage locker that will be the envy of many larger cruising yachts.
The 350 is very much in tune with the time – namely more speed for less effort – and is expected to make good account of herself in the ever-increasing programme of short-handed sailing events that are springing up. Radical she might seem, but she is still true to her roots. Heart and soul, she is every bit an Elan.