Impression 434: An Impressive Debutante
Elan makes a splash with the Impression 434, the first model of its new line of cruising boats
After winning Cruising World's 2004 Boat of the Year award in the Performance 40 Class with its Elan 40, Elan Marine of Slovenia turned to the cruising market with the Impression series of deck-saloon boats. According to the briefing by the Elan rep, Elan is "focusing on boats that offer comfort, quality, and safety-and still perform well." After a test sail on the new Impression 434, I believe that's an accurate assessment.
With the Impression 434, designer Rob Humphreys has drawn an attractive, purposeful boat that hints at a deck-saloon theme and wears its cruiser label unashamedly. Its high freeboard may increase windage, but it also adds enormously to the interior volume and keeps the decks dry. The hull is uncompromisingly strong, has a seakindly motion, and is capable of carrying realistic payloads.
Elan employs modern construction methods by infusing the hull's outer multiaxial laminate with vinylester resin for osmosis protection and with isophthalic polyester resin on the inner layers. The hull is solid glass below the waterline, while the topsides and deck are PVC-foam cored. According to Elan, construction is under the permanent technical supervision of Germanischer Lloyd.
The trendy twin wheels create redundancy in steering and great visibility from the windward helm and don't present an obstacle between steering and sheeting stations.
Attached to the cockpit console is a folding table, strong handholds, a stowage cubby, a central navigation display, and a compass binnacle. Deck flow is basically good, but the uneven steps from the cockpit to the side decks may create a tripping hazard.
Pushpit, pulpit, and lifelines are stout, even if, at 25 inches, they're a little low. More handholds are needed, and the companionway entry has some sharp corners that warrant attention. The foredeck is well laid out, with twin anchor rollers leading to a deep locker and a recessed windlass. I found the interior spacious, bright, and simple. The quality of materials and joinery is good, executed in an understated and pleasant way.
The raised galley has a three-burner stove, deep double sinks, well-fiddled counter space, and ample stowage. As for water, the Impression's 158 gallons are enough for an ocean crossing. The two-cabin version has a double aft cabin that competes with the V-berth forward for comfort and spaciousness. The main saloon has a huge folding table, generous seating, and a forward-facing nav station.
The 56-horsepower Volvo engine is easily accessed and drives the boat effortlessly with a three-bladed fixed propeller. The test boat also had an in-mast furling mainsail and a shallow-draft keel, so it wasn't quick to accelerate in our light-air test sail. Once we built apparent wind, it held good speed and tacked through respectable angles. The helm was tight yet responsive.
With a clear focus on the cruising concept, a widely recognized designer, and reliable quality of construction, Elan has made a good impression with the 434.
BOTY judge and circumnavigator Alvah Simon is in New Zealand planning his next adventure.
LOA 43' 9" (13.40 m.)
LWL 37' 7" (11.45 m.)
Beam 13' 8" (4.18 m.)
Draft (shoal/standard) 5' 6"/6' 3" (1.68/1.89 m.)
Sail Area (100%) 837 sq. ft.
Displacement 23,980 lb. (10,900 kg.)
Water 158 gal. (600 l.) 225 gal. (850 l.) (opt.)
Fuel 66 gal. (250 l.)
Engine 56-hp. Volvo
Designer Rob Humphreys
Price (base) $255,000