With its swooping deck-saloon cabin profile, plumb stern, and loads of ports and overhead hatches to let light pour into the sleeping cabins and saloon below, there’s a lot to like about the look and feel of Elan Yachts’ new midrange cruising sailboat, the Impression 45.1.
Throw in a full-batten main, overlapping genoa and agile steering, and the 45.1 is an able sailing boat too, as Cruising World’s Boat of the Year Judges found out during a light-air day right after the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, this past October.
Elan has been building boats in a mountainous region of Slovenia for a half-century, and in recent years, Rob Humphreys has been the designer for the entire range, which includes the sporty E Line, luxury GT models and three Impressions, including 40- and 50-foot sisterships.
The most visible change introduced on the 45.1 compared with its predecessor of the same LOA is the plumb stern, which makes for roomy aft cabins down below; a longer and wider cockpit that provides ample space for guests to relax forward of the twin wheels; and comfortable seating options astern for the skipper when underway. These include teak-covered spaces outboard of either wheel, letting a driver sit and see the telltales on the genoa, as well as teak-topped boxes located aft of each helm so the helmsman can face forward. On the boat we sailed, the starboard box doubled as a propane locker, and the port one housed a grill (a fridge or sink are other options). A large fold-down swim platform, when lowered, also gives the chef space to stand while cooking alfresco.
Forward of the helm pedestals, there are side-by-side, long drop-leaf tables. With the inboard leaves folded down, there is a clear centerline path between them from the transom to the companionway, and the stainless-steel frame on which the panels mount provides two sturdy handrails; raised, they form an expansive dining table that can seat eight. The outboard leaves, meanwhile, can be locked horizontally and lowered to seat level to make two large sun lounges or, as BOTY judge Dan Spurr noted, secure sea berths for an off-watch crew.
In theory, this makes for a quite versatile cockpit, though in practice, once seated at the fore end of either table, I felt a bit trapped in place, and while sailing, the forward end of the tables limits access to winches on the cabin top—an example of how design elements sometimes require compromise.
As I mentioned, thanks to numerous ports and hatches, the interior of the 45.1 is quite bright, at least during daylight hours. Both aft doubles offer elbowroom, with hanging lockers and cushioned seats. To port at the foot of the companionway there’s a nav desk with a foldout seat; a head and stall shower are to starboard. A large dining table with U-shaped seating takes up the remainder of the saloon to port. A centerline bench includes storage underneath and has a clever articulating backrest that can turn the seat into a settee for dining, or when reversed and locked, gives the cook a solid place to stand while working at the in-line galley to starboard.
At the aft end of the galley, there are two front-opening fridges with storage above; these abut a propane stove and oven. A sink and generous counterspace sit forward, next to the bulkhead, and are located where motion underway should be the least. A nice touch is a pair of stacked ports in the hull, which give the cook a glimpse of the world outdoors.
Forward of the saloon is the owner’s cabin, with a head locker to port and a stall shower to starboard. A hanging locker, plus drawers under the berth and shelves above it, provides lots of storage. In the four-cabin version of the boat, the head and hanging locker to port are replaced by a small cabin with bunk beds, and the two cabins share a combined head and shower to starboard.
For the 45.1, Elan uses African iroca veneers and solid wood. Joinery-work appeared thorough, though the judges noted that not all end grains were sealed.
Elan hulls are vacuum-infused, with solid glass below the waterline and foam coring above; decks are balsa-cored and hand-laid. The hull and deck are both glued and screwed together, and are laminated on the inside; bulkheads are also tabbed and laminated in place, a feature that was noted and approved of by BOTY judge Ralph Naranjo.
Judge Ed Sherman, meanwhile, was impressed by the digital switching used for the electrical system. It was developed by Elan in conjunction with Slovenian electrical company Simarine. All circuits are controlled by a touchscreen at the nav desk, and there are manual backup switches for redundancy.
Base price for the 45.1 is $325,000, and includes the standard cast-iron keel (6-foot-2-inch draft) and a 50 hp Volvo and saildrive. A shoal keel (5-foot-3-inch draft) is also available. The boat we sailed in Annapolis was loaded with options, including air conditioning, an 8 kW Fisher-Panda genset, a 75 hp Volvo with saildrive, a bow thruster, a full suite of instruments and canvas, and three of the four Harken winches were electric. The price tag for that baby was $467,000. Expect to pay right around $425,000 for a nicely equipped model.
Underway, I felt secure moving around on deck thanks to beefy teak toe rails, numerous handholds on the cabin top and an excellent handle on either side of the dodger frame. Forward, the chain locker is deep, and a stainless-steel bow fitting protects the gelcoat when lowering and raising the anchor.
Unfortunately, our sail aboard the 45.1 was the first of the day and the breeze was light. Still, in about 7 knots of wind, we were able to get the boat moving along at just over 4 knots closehauled, and gained another knot or so when the wind “gusted” to 8.5. Even in these light airs, the single rudder was responsive, and the boat hinted that it would be nimble given a little more oomph in the sails.
Overall, I liked the 45.1. It seemed a good size for a couple with kids or frequent sailing friends, and it would be easy to manage shorthanded. With plenty of storage below and an option to carry up to 150 gallons of water (56 gallons of fuel), the boat could be set up for longer passages—but it would also do just fine as a roomy, comfortable daysailer. Overall, I guess you could say the new 45.1 left a good impression.
Mark Pillsbury is CW’s editor.
|45′5″ (13.84 m)
|37′6″ (11.43 m)
|13′9″ (4.19 m)
|6′3″/5′3″ (1.91/1.60 m)
|SAIL AREA (100%)
|1,069 sq. ft. (116.5 sq. m)
|7,300/7,600 lb. (3,310/3,447 kg)
|23,000 lb. (10,433 kg)
|79 gal. (299 L)
|56 gal. (212 L)
|26.5 gal. (100 L)
|63′11″ (19.50 m)
|75 hp Volvo with Saildrive
|Humphreys Yacht Design
- WIND SPEED 6 to 7 knots
- SEA STATE Calm
- SAILING Closehauled 4.1 knots / Reaching 3.5 knots
- MOTORING Cruise (2,400 rpm) 8.1 knots / Fast (2,800 rpm) 8.5 knots