Our verdict on the Elan 360

Product Overview

Product:

New boat test: Elan 360

Manufacturer:

What’s she like to sail?

At 5 knots or less on an even keel, the Elan 360 felt a bit sleepy on the helm, but as soon as she reached around 5.5 knots – which should be most of the time – the helm came alive. It’s responsive, the Jefa cable steering wasn’t as light or direct as a single wheel system, but was better than many twin wheel setups I’ve sailed. Playing the mainsheet isn’t essential, but it makes the helm’s job more enjoyable. With twin rudders there’s little worry about losing grip in the water, but grip on deck maybe! She heels quite far, but keeps sailing; only a sense of vertigo and a reduction in speed indicate it’s time to be sensible and ease the mainsail.
To windward she tracks really well, and the pop-up footrests come into their own. They add a feeling of security and, if you stand, superiority; such is the height you gain. In the front half of the cockpit, the German mainsheet is led across an otherwise comfortable seat. The crew, sitting to windward astride the mainsheet traveller and backstay controls, has the mainsheet winch easily to hand – an arrangement that works very well indeed. Off the wind she sails fast and flat.

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What’s she like in port and at anchor?

This performance version has 2.35m draught, so you’ll have to pick your ports, anchorages and berths accordingly. The bow roller is detachable, but the lead from it to the bow cleats (1.7m aft from the stem) is poor and fouls on the pulpit. With twin rudders you can’t use propwash while manoeuvring, which might be a problem if you’re stationary and trying to bring the bow through the wind in a tight space. With a bit of way on, though, she is quick to respond.
Down below, the heads was too narrow for me. To shower I’d either have to sit or stand facing in or outboard, as I am too broad to face fore/aft comfortably. Not that I’d risk a shower in the same compartment as a light switch and 230V socket.
With the chart table stowed, she has ample space for living and socialising, though the mast in the middle of the saloon table doesn’t help conversation with those sitting opposite. In all of the cabins there was a wasted opportunity for stowage. Instead of a hanging locker or shelves was a shoulder-high, fiddled shelf with nothing beneath it – no hanging bar or shelves.

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Would she suit you and your crew?

She sails well and the cockpit is laid out for speed, not shelter. This twin aft cabin version is fine for port-hopping but not great for extended cruising; there are too many compromises. I’d happily lose an aft cabin to gain a larger heads, more deck stowage and a proper chart table, but then I never sail with eight people on board. Although dedicated to performance, the Elan 360 (S4) still has an interior orientated towards, but not devoted to cruising. Take the revolving chart table: it’s barely usable on starboard tack and adds weight. I’d rather have some shelves in the cabins.
There were areas of the interior that left much to be desired. This was hull no.2 so hopefully there will be improvements. She needs refining to make her the boat she could be, or perhaps deserves to be. She sails well, but I felt the interior let her down. My advice would be to question whether you really need eight berths before opting for this layout. If your priority is speed over practicality, I think the 6-berth version would be a better boat to cruise and you really don’t need eight people on board to have a blast.

Would she suit your style of sailing?

Creek crawling 0/5

Coastal port-hopping 4/5

Offshore passage-making 2/5

Trade wind voyaging 1/5

High-lattitude adventure 0/5