Boats Reviews And Tips

Elan E4 Family Edition Review

Elan Yachts’ E series models feature the same signature chines in their hulls, twin rudders and twin steering wheels of the Elan S series, as well as T-shaped keels with low-aspect ratio fins. Both E and S series are built with vacuum infusion and Vinylester resin, and on the outside, the differences between the two are not so obvious. But in other ways, it becomes clear that where the S models save weight with lighter interiors and carry upgraded hardware and an optional carbon rig, the E series is fitted out to serve well in both in racing and cruising modes. Our test of the E4 Family Edition provided insight:

Telltale signs of the practical, performance bent of the E4 are the color-coded control lines that run in plain sight on deck, and the mainsheet system that’s rigged in the German Cupper style, running forward on the boom and then all the way back to winches positioned by the two steering stations in the cockpit.

In the cockpit, the nods to comfort and style on the E4 Family Edition become more apparent: Teak surfaces, a fixed table, a dodger and a Bimini top. Also notable here are the stainless-steel grab rails that prevent the mainsheet from snagging on the steering pedestals and their rotating instrument screens.

A simple yet immensely useful detail is the adjustable platform that helps the helmsperson keep a safe footing under heel.

Descend the companionway steps and you enter into the comfort zone. There’s an L-shaped galley with two sinks, a top-loading refrigerator, and plenty of stowage in the drawers and cubbies. The head and shower across the aisle to starboard features a dedicated wet locker for the dripping foul weather gear you have to deal with when coming below when it’s raining or blowing hard.

The addition of a wet locker to the Elan E4’s head is a detail easily overlooked at a boat show, but greatly appreciated on a rough day on the water.

This boat comes with two or three cabins and one head only. In the three-cabin version we reviewed, the head compartment was moved slightly more forward, pinching the couch space a bit, but Elan still managed to install a chart table that converts to a seat when not in use, simply by flipping it on its head. This is a clever solution that provides at least some dedicated space, however small, for chart work.

The keel-stepped mast required a creative solution with a saloon table that has two fold-down leaves, but it also provides a practical place to hold on when moving about this part of the cabin when at sea.

The forward cabin has a V-berth with stowage on shelves and cabinets and under the mattress, where Elan also positioned the water tank. The two aft cabins are cozier, but of sufficient size for two regular-sized adults who packed their sea-bags with the limits of a 34-foot boat in mind.

Access to the 30 HP Volvo Penta auxiliary engine is easy after flipping up the companionway steps. This engine will propel the E4 Family Edition to a top speed of 7.5 knots at 2,800 RPM while the cruising tempo is 6 knots at 2,200 RPM.

The sailing portion of our review saw only about 9 knots maximum wind speed. That’s not much, but it was enough to show the agility of this boat, which proved responsive to a light touch on the helm, even with all the additional equipment. Her 5.4 knots close hauled and 5.2 knots on a tight reach under main and jib only hint at what she’d do if sailed by an attentive crew that works the traveler, tweaks the sheets, and flies a gennaker from the retractable bow sprit. In retrospect, it is easy to imagine how the E4 Family Edition is equally capable of satisfying a diverse range of sailing preferences, be it lazy lounging at anchor, spirited sparring on a racecourse, or comfortable cruising.

Other Choices: Interested sailors may also want to see the Beneteau Oceanis 35, which can be had with one, two, or thee cabins. The Solana 33 may also provide some competition to the E4.

For more information, visit Elan.

Length 34’9″
Beam 11’5″
Draft 7’0″
Sail area (main) 387 sq. ft.
Sail area (jib) 320 sq. ft.
Sail area (gennaker) 1,184 sq. ft.
Displacement 11,700 lbs
Fuel capacity 20 gal.
Water capacity 49 gal.
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