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Old 03-30-2007
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Thoughts on Elan

I have been looking at buying a new Beneteau for some time now but my desire for a higher quality boat has lead me to look at Elan, specifically the Impression 384. Does anybody have any experience with recent (last 5 years) Elan models? They look like well built boats and I will be going to take a look at what the dealer has in a week, but I wanted to hear what others had to say. Does anyone specifically know much about how they are constructed and what makes either a Beneteau or Elan (again from within the last 5 years) better than the other as far as build quality goes? The boat will be used mainly for Mediterranean crusing.

Thanks for your help.
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Here's what the Elan website claims:

Build Quality
Elan build in a semi-custom way. The hulls and decks are constructed with vacuum infusion lamination giving a superior fibre to resin ratio that cannot be achieved with hand lamination. The hull to deck and hull to grid joints are bonded and taped with the hull to deck joint also bolted through. Vinylester resin is used in the outer layers below the waterline for long term osmosis protection.

Any comments?
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Do you have any actual experience on an Elan, even if it was at a boat show, or know of anyone who owns one?
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One of our clients has a mate with an Elan. I don't know the exact model but the word is that he's had nothing but trouble with it since he bought it new about a year back. If i can find out any details on the problems he's having I'll let you know.
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Here's a little review from Cruising World.
I started sailing on the old Elan333 back in 90's, it was a sturdy boat, allowing us to do mistakes and learn. However, i have no idea how well are they made nowdays. I saw the Impression384 last year on the boat show, but i didn't check it out because the design of Impression line is just not appealing to me. But i did check out the Elan340 and instantly fell in love with the interior design!
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Hmm... doesn't bode well if no one has anything positive to say about them...

While vacuum infusion can make a laminate stronger and lighter, it has to be done correctly to do so. Is the hull-to-deck joint also chemically fastened?? Most manufacturers are now using high-tech adhesives to connect the hull and deck, in addition the the bolts or screws.

Much of what you'll see on any boat manufacturers website is marketing speak, and really doesn't do a good job of representing the actual build quality of the boat.

I would see if there is an Elan owners association on the web, and post a message there, or merely lurk and see if the owners are happy with the boats or not.
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Buy a Beneteau
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Giulietta, can you please explain your support for Beneteau over Elan ? Also, tdw I would really appreciate it if you could find out what problems your friend was having with his boat.
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"Giulietta" probably has the best advice on Elans and Beneteaus, if you can get a straight answer(just kidding G). He is in Portugal and there are lots of them in Europe, especially Beneteau. I don't know anyone here with one. I think from what I have heard, Beneteau is a better build and has the history. I was looking at Beneteaus too. I kept thinking "why are there so many under six years old for sale?" That scares me. Elan is even more like that. Lots of them under 4 years old for sale. Were they charter boats? If so, stay away. With the Benes I looked at here, it turned out that the in-mast furling wears out the sails in about six years or less and other things start to fall apart too. So when you have a lower priced boat that appeals to the masses, non-sailors or first timers will buy it. Only to realize a few years later that they can't or don't want to keep up with the costs. That being said, there will be some out there that are well cared for by responsible people, and true sailors that are upgrading to a bigger boat.
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I have been very impressed with the Elans that I have seen. The glass work and general details looked well done and quite well thought through. I have not sailed on the Elan but they generally appear to be a step up from the Beneteau Oceanis and 'number' series. The boat that I looked at was a couple year old 40 footer and not part of their Impression series.

I am a big fan of Rob Humphreys who is the designer for Elan. I like his work a lot better than the work of Berret and Finot, who does much of the design work for Beneteau's 'number' series models.

Elan points out that they bolt their deck which is in sharp contrast with the larger production manufacturers, who simply glue their hulls to their decks. The new glues generate pretty impressive bonds but are being used on very small contact areas. This results in a joint that overtime will be prone to fatique failure of the frp it is glued to. And while the glue holds pretty tenaciously, leaking can still be a problem which is extremely difficult to fix.

Bolting requires a wider flange area and so has a greater faying surface for the sealant/adhessive and so is potentially a more durable connection.

Vacuum bagging and infusion are state of the art for producing a sturdy, durable, and moderate weight construction. Vinylester is a great resin for fiberglass. I only wish it was used more universally.

Jeff
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