April 2022 Yacht Reviews
Words by Sarah Ell. Photography and video by Roger Mills.
DESIGNER Humphreys Yacht Design/Studio FA Porsche
BUILDER Elan Yachts
PRICE AS TESTED From $980,000
LOA 15.2M
LENGTH (Waterline) 1.5M
BEAM 4.49M
ENGINE 1 x Volvo Penta 75hp
Sail Area 114 SqM
  • Responsive handling
  • Sharp styling
  • Sail handling is efficient and easy to manage
  • Lots of room in the cockpit
  • Big volume interior that’s light and bright

When you think about speed and style, sport cars spring to mind. And so it was with Slovenian manufacturer Elan Yachts, who turned to Austrian designers Studio FA Porsche to give their new 15.2-metre performance cruising yacht, the GT6, a slick makeover.

When Elan first unveiled the GT6 prototype, at Boot Düsseldorf in Germany in early 2020, they did it alongside an ultra-rare 1973 Porsche 911 RS from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart — an iconic sports car designed and styled by Studio FA Porsche. As well as having a style pedigree, the GT6 comes with naval architecture smarts as well, from the drawing board of Humphreys Yacht Design and the father-and-son team of Rob and Tom Humphreys.
The first GT6 to be launched in New Zealand waters is the proud possession of Kaipara farmer and life-long surfer Ian Russell, who has turned his passion for collecting farms and cars to yachts. Russell bought an Elan Impression 45 cruiser last year, but was so blown away by the GT6 that he decided he needed one of those as well.


While he hasn’t been doing much sailing over the past few years, Russell is planning to downsize his farming operation and spend more time on the water, cruising around New Zealand and up to the islands – on one or other of his fleet of yachts.
“My friends worry about me,” Russell laughs. “They’ve seen me collect cars and they’ve seen me collect farms, and now they’re seeing me collecting boats.”
The yacht’s New Zealand commissioning was completed in mid-December last year — right before the Covid level change would have allowed Russell to attend her launching — and with his other commitments, she’s only been sailed a handful of times since. But we’re keen to get her out on the water and investigate the substance behind the style.
The yacht is certainly eye-catching, with a pronounced hard chine running the length of the hull and a stylish ‘eyebrow’ over the through-hull windows. The topsides are high, enabling the cabintop to be low-profile and the deck to be completely flush forward of the mast. The decks are kept clear, with all sheets and control lines running aft to the cockpit in channels below the decks, which are finished in hard-wearing synthetic teak. Add to this the charcoal DCX sails and black dodger and bimini, and this is a smart-looking package.

The GT (Grand Tourer) line of crossover yachts are designed to deliver the full power of a racing yacht with all the comforts and easy handling of a cruiser, rather than the compromise of a cruiser-racer — because, as Rob Humphreys says, “I can’t think of any benefits of having a slow boat.”
The GT6 is also designed to be easy to operate for a shorthanded crew, family or couple, and for that reason the sailing systems are centralised aft by the twin helms. The sheets and controls emerge from the deck through a bank of clutches to a pair of large Harken Performa winches on each side, the aft winches on the port side being powered to make halyard work easier. The tails are then tucked away in custom lockers, so there are no bits of string to clutter the cockpit.
The mainsheet is on a continuous/German system running from a bridle down to the deck forward of the dodger, and there are short tracks for the overlapping jib near the front of the cabin, but otherwise the side- and foredecks are completely clear. The mainsail stacks away into a lazy bag, and the jib is furling. (There is also a furling gennaker, to be flown off the yacht’s short fixed bowsprit, but we don’t get the chance to try that out on our sail.)

The large, racer-type steering wheels are mounted on pedestals which angle out from the cockpit sides, and feature a Kiwi innovation: instead of the Raymarine nav screens being flat-mounted on the top, which can make them hard to read in sunshine, they are fitted upright on adjustable pods.
The cockpit makes the most of the yacht’s considerable 4.49m beam, with a fold-out table on each side and a large, central underfloor locker. There’s plenty of room for a large crew to sit around and relax; we have nine aboard on the day of our sail and there’s ample room for everyone.
A large boarding platform operated on a purchase system forms the yacht’s transom when closed, and drops down for easy access to the water or the dock. When it’s open there is also access through the transom to a large storage space under the deck. A barbecue can be fitted into one of the pods at the rear of the cockpit, and a fridge can be fitted in the other one, for easy outdoor entertaining.

Heading down below, the yacht has an ‘inverted’ layout which again makes best use of that max beam: the saloon is at the bottom of the stairs, and the galley forward, ranging across both sides of the boat. On the port side is the three-burner gas hob and oven, under-bench fridge and freezer, pop-up microwave and plenty of bench and storage space, while the sink and more storage is to starboard.
This boat has a three-cabin layout, with a double cabin aft on each side, and a large master cabin forward. The day head and shower are on the starboard side, at the base of the steps, and the master cabin has its own spacious head and shower compartment.
The bleached oak interior and pale upholstery keep the interior light and bright, as do plenty of through-hull and higher cabintop windows, and the large skylights above the galley. This boat features ambient LED lighting throughout the interior, the deluxe audio pack with a Fusion stereo system and higher-spec speakers, and a flat-screen TV which pops up out of a bulkhead to starboard between the saloon and galley.

In the weeks leading up to our sail the weather seems determined to not cooperate, with Cyclone Dovi putting paid to our first attempt. Finally, with a cast of friends and family aboard, we head off out of Westhaven Marina and into a fresh late summer day. The addition of an optional bow thruster makes it easy to get in and out of the marina berth, and the simple sail handling systems and that powered winch makes it easy to get the sails up and get sailing.
The Elan is responsive without being sensitive, settling into the groove and being satisfyingly light on the helm. Visibility forward is good from either wheel, with a clear and comfortable view of main and jib from windward and down the uncluttered side deck to the jib when steering from leeward.

We have a pleasurable broad two-sail reach down the Rangitoto Channel before finding a bit too much breeze outside the lighthouse, and turning around to head for home on a tighter reach. The boat accelerates smoothly on the bear-away and sits at a comfortable angle without excessive heel, thanks to the wide transom and carefully placed chine. The twin rudders provide excellent grip and even in the puffs the yacht remains stable and feels in control.
This is not the end of Russell’s Elan journey: he’s also ordered an E6, the performance race boat version of this cruiser, which is due to arrive here in September. After seeing the style and performance of this Grand Tourer, we’re certainly looking forward to getting on board the race version.


Elite 15.8m Sport Sedan

The pride and joy of a multi-generational family, Bliss resides on a pier that’s home to a couple of other Elite motor launches – Sandspit Marina is a hot-spot for the Bill Upfold-designed vessels, with several calling this small marina home.

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Subscriptions: 0508 692 628
Office: 09 373 3436

PO Box 301063
Albany, Auckland, 0752
New Zealand

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