A Luxury Performance Cruiser for the Modern Age

An insightful interview with the Humpreys father and son, the designers of Elan yachts

A luxury performance cruiser for the modern age

An insightful interview with the Humpreys father and son, the designers of Elan yachts

Elan Yachts has brought together the expertise of designers Tom and Rob Humphreys and luxury motorcar manufacturer, Porsche to create their line of GT luxury cruisers, which are bringing about a sea change in the performance cruiser market.

The relationship between Elan Yachts and Humphreys Yacht Design has been developed over many years, bringing an array of impressive cruising yachts to market. But with the GT5, and now the latest GT6, Elan is making luxury cruisers to take on the world’s best. The GT6 in particular can boast not only the fine design skills of Tom and father Rob Humphreys, but also the talents of designers from luxury motorcar marque, Porsche to help design a truly remarkable performance cruiser.

Designer Tom Humphreys

As an office, we’ve always had a very close affinity with Elan,” explains designer Tom Humphreys. “We’ve been working together for 25 years now and definitely have a special connection with the Elan brand.

Designer Tom Humphreys


When it comes to making a luxury cruiser that is also sporty enough to give an owner everything they crave in terms of pure sailing performance, Humphreys Yacht Design and Elan Yachts have been able to draw on their years of designing together, and technological advances in construction techniques, to deliver a performance cruiser that works for owners looking for a step up in terms of both onboard luxury and performance.

“Designing a yacht is obviously always a technical challenge, and that’s something we really enjoy, but in a sense, the biggest challenge is fulfilling an owner’s expectations,” explains Rob Humphreys.

“There is a great pride of ownership and that is really important for us. We want owners to feel really proud of their boats, and tell their friends “I’ve got a whatever,” whether it’s a race boat or a luxury cruiser.”

Designer Tom Humphreys Designer Tom Humphreys

“For the GT6, we worked very closely with the Elan in-house team, getting a wish-list of what they would like to see on the boat,” Tom Humphreys states.

“Elan were very early adopters with the whole resin infusion process and in adopting vinylester as a resin system. That has allowed fairly significant changes, because it results in quite a bit of weight reduction on the composite structure parts.

“Really you can look at the GT6 as an evolution of everything we’ve done with Elan up to now, even building on the previous GT5 model.

“It’s a fast-cruising yacht with a very comfortable interior. It is a great concept and very much an owner’s yacht.”

“For us the process has all been about trying to optimise all these features that go into making it a really comfortable, well-mannered, easily managed design,” adds Rob Humphreys. “And the work Elan have developed in-house with the Porsche team, means the overall model makes for a unique boat with a big future.”

Getting the features right

The work Tom and Rob Humphreys have been doing in recent years on some short-handed offshore and ocean-going performance yachts was key to the development of the GT6, particularly in creating a hull form that can deliver easy performance with a short-handed couple in mind.

“Simple sail handling systems are key, as is a well-proportioned rig to keep sail handling easy and simple,” Say Tom Humphreys.

“But that must all be balanced by the hull and appendages, and the righting moment to keep loads manageable. It’s also very important to make sure it’s a really easy, fun and enjoyable boat to sail, that balances nicely on the different sail configurations and in different sea states.

“In terms of the features, the twin rudders are a key ingredient to the whole thing, coupled with the fairly high form stability hull form. The high form stability gives us many benefits. Obviously, from a physical point of view it gives us quite a high internal volume, which has significant and obvious benefits in terms of creating a luxury cruising yacht. It also allows us to carry or share a lot of the righting moment requirements and carry that in the hull form. That means we can look at moderating the keel ballast weight, which all helps to drive the displacement down and thus increase the performance of the hull.”

Both Tom and Rob Humphreys point to the regular repeat customers Elan achieves as a key element in helping them develop each new model and focus their direction by drawing on the vast amount of input from the owner’s side. This means they can be sure the direction they have taken in recent boats like the GT6 and before that the GT5 are what owners are looking for. Increasing performance from a luxury cruiser has shown time and again to be an important factor, so too increasing usability for short-handed crews. As such the design team are able to deliver the GT6, with its increased internal volume to allow a more luxury feel below, but also keep performance by reducing displacement, all in a hull that is easy to get to maximum performance from, with features like the twin rudders helping to deliver ease of use for couples.

“As the clients demand more from their yachts and from their new Elan models, all this information that’s generated really helps to flow into each new project,” concludes Tom Humphreys.

“I mean, it’s what we are all striving to do, isn’t it? Improve and constantly evolve each project as much as we can, and refine the balance of all the different criteria to all these designs. It certainly helps being able to draw on that wide knowledge base, and the GT6 is a product of just that.”