Don't be discouraged, the scanned text with graphics at the beginning of this
review is hard to read, but the review that follows is clear.

Note: The Express has the same hull as the Elan so
most of the reviewers comments other than those
regarding size and fit should also apply to the
Express and Express EX.

This review of the Elan appeared in the April 1999 issue of Sea Kayaker.
1999 Sea Kayaker

Elan by Mariner Kayaks

Elan top and side views -- Elnrvpct.jpg (71960 bytes)

Elan lines drawing and dimensions -- Elnrvlns.gif (11953 bytes)

The hard to read dimensions and hydrostatics numbers above can be found in Dimensions. The drag calcualations can be found below.

The drag calculated by KAPER was: 2 knots -- 0.92, 3 knots -- 1.91, 
4 knots -- 3.73, 4.5 knots -- 5.26, 5 knots -- 7.88, 6 knots -- 12.64.

The drag calculated from the Taylor Standard Series was: 2 knots -- 0.92,
3 knots -- 1.92, 4 knots -- 3.69, 4.5 knots -- 5.12, 5 knots -- 7.91,
6 knots -- 13.92


Elan hydrostatics and stability -- Elnrvhd.gif (21908 bytes)

Elan Design Statement

The third kayak in our Express series, the Elan was designed to fit smaller adults while retaining all the qualities that have made Mariner kayaks the choice of expert paddlers.

Paddlers with shorter torsos love the Elan’s lower cockpit. At last they have a firm grip on the thighbraces and plenty of clearance for elbows and ribs. When the cockpit rim isn’t an impediment to stroking, edging and Eskimo rolling, it no longer feels like you are paddling your bathtub.

The narrow hull and low wetted surface allow many paddlers to keep pace with their stronger friends. Smaller paddlers will find the Elan provides all the stability they need when empty yet still allows for easy leans when gear laden.
The Elan’s quick maneuverability is a great advantage handling strong winds as well as in tight places. The unique Mariner stern automatically adds tracking stiffness when desirable--at higher speeds or with a gear load. The Elan has a soft ride and secure neutrality in rough seas. Weathercocking and broaching are minimal. This comfortable control, along with the nimble responsiveness to the paddle and crisp carved turns which are precisely controlled by edging, means a rudder is simply unnecessary clutter.

Cam Broze and Matt Broze

Elan Review
GL 5' 11", 165-pound male. Day trips and pool practice. Conditions from calm to winds of 30 knots gusting to 40, waves 3 to 4 feet.
KC 5'7",140-pound female. 13-mile day trip with 10- to 15-knot winds.
VK 5'7",120-pound female. Day trips in winds from 8 to 12 knots, waves to 1 1/2 feet.

Our reviewers liked the Elan`s "sleek appearance, nice upswept bow," (GL) and "elegant, clean lines" (VK). The kayak has "a solid feel, hull and deck seam solidly glassed" (GL). "The kayak is smooth and cleanly finished, inside and out" (VK).

For a solo carry, the boat balances at the front of the coaming, making it "slightly more awkward to pick up and heft onto the shoulder," but, at 47 pounds, "the boat is light and relatively easy to carry" (KC). At the ends of the kayak the carry toggles are attached to 3/8"-thick stainless steel U-bolts that provide reliable points for locking the boat.
Nylon padeyes "anchor intelligently laid-out deck lines. On the foredeck is a paddle park and a place for a chart case. A spare breakdown paddle can fit under the rear nylon deck lines" (GL). On the foredeck a painter doubles as a perimeter grab line. Under the foredeck there is the optional plastic stowage shelf and loops for a bilge pump.
The cockpit opening was long enough for KC to get in seat first then feet, though not long enough for GL to get into the boat that way without loosening the back band. The vertical space in the cockpit is low to fit smaller paddlers. There wasn’t quite enough room for GL's size 10 shoes, although size 9 neoprene booties fit just fine. GL still had room enough to change foot and knee positions easily, and KC had "plenty of leg room and was still able to crank the boat into a hard lean using knee and thigh leverage." VK agreed that the low deck results in really secure contact for bracing and boat control."
The seat supplied with the test kayak was molded foam with fold-up hip supports. It was not fastened to the boat. Our reviewers found it very comfortable, though it can slip out of position. The back band is comfortable and "stays out of the way when you sit down" (KC). It "is a great complement to the low aft deck for lay-back rolls and braces" (GL).
Thigh braces are molded contours around the cockpit opening padded with 1/4" foam: "They allowed me to grip the boat firmly and set it on edge to carve turns with a remarkable degree of control" (KC).
The Keepers footbraces are "very solid" (GL). VK could adjust them with her feet, while GL and KC found it was difficult to adjust them while afloat.
On the water the initial stability was "moderate, despite the narrow hull" (GL). Secondary stability was rated very good: it "hangs forever. I can lean way over and still feel secure" (KC).
The Elan "responds beautifully to leans and sweep strokes. It carves turns beautifully" (KC). "Edging to make minor adjustments was effortless. More serious leans resulted in quick, responsive turns" (VK).
"For a boat that turns so well," wrote GL, "tracking was remarkable in all directions of wind and waves." "The Elan has neither rudder nor skeg and does not need either. It tracks extremely well" (VK).
KC felt no weathercocking in a 10-knot wind, and a 15-knot wind required only minor corrections. For VK, paddling in a 12-knot wind, the Elan "stayed dead on course or required only minor stroke adjustments or leans." GL noted a "slight tendency for the bow to fall to the leeward in a crosswind. In 30-knot winds turning upwind took a little effort-usually several sweep strokes accompanied by leans. Overall, the low profile cut right through the wind, making it a joy for the advanced paddler in storm conditions."
"The peaked foredeck shed water very well and the bow rides over rather than into the waves, making for a dry ride" (VK). KC noted that the bow "slaps when paddling out in large surf or upwind with a load in chop."
The reviewers thought the Elan is a "fast boat. It accelerates well and holds its speed" (KC). "The ease of tracking, quick acceleration and good fit all contribute" to the Elan's speed (GL). On wind waves GL and KC found that the Elan accelerated well to catch waves and demonstrated little tendency to broach: "It maintains direction well with only an occasional correcting stroke" (GL). Surfing a shore break, GL and KC found the Elan was easy to get into position to catch waves, accelerated well and tracked well down the wave. GL "loved this kayak for surfing." When broached it was easy for him to control the Elan "with a little lean and brace
The Elan rolls easily. "The low back deck allows the paddler to lean back fully when completing a sweep roll. The snug fit is an asset to control while rolling" (KC). In the pool, GL had no trouble executing a paddle float reentry, and reported that "reentry and roll was not difficult."
The Elan has room enough for a week’s worth of gear for the careful packer. The model tested had no hatches or bulkheads. All loading was done through the cockpit. Flotation was provided by float bags and/or drybags. "With a 60-pound load aboard, the kayak handled beautifully," wrote GL. "It felt more stable, tracked perfectly, turned on a dime, felt only a little slower and didn't ride too low in the water." With 50 pounds aboard, KC agreed the stability and turning ability were still "very impressive."
The Elan "is a sporty kayak suited for the action-oriented smaller paddler and medium-sized paddler if his or her shoes fit. It can handle high winds and rough water and makes you feel the kayak is an extension of yourself" (GL). The Elan is well suited for "the experienced smaller paddler who wants excellent speed, tracking, steering and overall performance" (KC). "Scaled to the needs of the smaller paddler, the Elan is a joy to paddle. Novice paddlers will find that the Elan rewards and encourages their advancing skills. A sporty, highly maneuverable and fun boat" (VK).


Design Response
Thanks to the testers for their thoroughness. We’re especially pleased that you tried the Elan in extreme winds, rough seas and surf -- conditions we design for but which shoppers don’t often get to experience before they buy.
The testers were all bigger than the "short paddler" niche the Elan targets. GL especially would better fit our 1" deeper Express. It has the same hull and handling characteristics but fits size 12 feet, holds more gear, and has even more secondary stability. The 2" deeper Express EX can accommodate size 14 feet and holds a huge gear load.
Numerous seat options are available. Two bolt in place. Another is a seat/footbrace unit that can be instantly moved to best trim the kayak for different conditions. The loose foam seat (tested) saves weight and still allows some trimming capability. The Elan has a good sensitivity to trimming, so paddlers need to remember that if they move the seat for some reason, perhaps to make entry easier, they are affecting performance as well. In fact, our demo boat had the backrest adjusted aft of trim to help us cram our own six foot frames into it and we forgot to readjust it to level trim for the testers. A stern heavy trim like this can reduce top speed, contribute to slapping in head seas, cause lee helm (in a windage balanced kayak), and makes it harder to turn into strong winds. For perspective: turning into a sustained 30 knot wind is almost impossible in many sea kayaks and none make it effortless.
Moving the seat back is most helpful for running downwind or balancing a bow heavy load. Some who prefer the foam seat fixed more firmly in place have used Velcro patches, but this makes trimming difficult at sea. Strips of "non-skid" glued to the hull under the seat might be a better solution. Thanks for making us think about this -- we’ll evaluate it.
Though small, the Elan is big on performance. Its excellent surfing ability, seakindly handling in extreme conditions, raked ends that slide easily over kelp in either direction, and a surprising gear capacity make the Elan a true coastal touring kayak, every bit as capable as our other kayaks designed for the open coast, the Coaster, Express, Max, and Mariner II.

Matt and Cam Broze

Options and pricing: (Note: the words below in lightweight italics were edited out from the information we provided to the magazine.)
Designed: In production since 1997.
Standard Lay-up: Vacuum-bagged woven and biaxial rovings with reinforcements bonded with vinylester/polyester co-resin. Deck and hull joined with fiberglass outside seams, as well as tapered thickness inside seams to reduce stress risers. Huge color choice.
Other Lay-ups: Lightweight, heavy duty (Expedition), and Icebreaker in fiberglass or exotic materials (Kevlar™ , graphite, or hybrid fabric).
Standard Features: 3/8" stainless U-bolts embedded in each end (lockable security), toggled T-grab loops, chart holders, paddle park, bow towline/painter/grab line, rear deck storage/self rescue/grab lines, spare paddle holder, stern towline/painter/grab line, tethered 4" bow access port, foam seat or fiberglass "hung" seat in two widths, adjustable backrest, adjustable footbraces, padded knee/thigh braces, detailed manuals.
Options: Instantly adjustable sliding seat/footbrace unit, 17"x13" double-sealed stern hatch, fiberglass bulkhead, underdeck chart pocket with hand pump holder, choose from several functional deck line arrangements, and Feathercraft rudder system.
Approximate weight: Standard lay-up with: foam seat 44 lb., hung seat, 45 lb., sliding seat 50 lb. Custom lay-ups 33 to 65 lb.
Price: $2345  [in 2007 is $2695]
Availability: Only available directly from Mariner Kayaks. Limited production, allow four to eight weeks.
Manufacturers Address: [ in 2007 is: Mariner Kayaks, P.O. Box 65011, Shoreline, WA 98155-9011  (206)367-2831   
Website:  e-mail:]


FYI: Below  is our first draft of the Elan Design Statement (before we had to edit it down to 200 words):
The Elan is the third kayak in our Express series. It is lower and narrower than the others to provide shorter adults an excellent fit in a sea kayak that even the most expert among them can love. The cockpit is lower and was further recessed in back to allow those with shorter torsos more elbow clearance and easier Eskimo rolls.  Because smaller paddlers are inherently more stable they can enjoy the efficiency of a narrow hull without feeling tippy. Wide kayaks are difficult for small folks to tilt when that is desirable (such as to turn quicker) or necessary (when sideways to breaking seas). Unfortunately, most narrow kayaks are just too long and stiff tracking for smaller paddlers to handle in strong winds. Quicker turning is a big advantage in wind as well as in tight places. The Elan is sporty and maneuverable at lower speeds and with light loads. However it was designed to automatically increase tracking stiffness when that is desireable (when speed or gear weight is increased).
A smaller lighter paddler is more easily blown about by the wind The lighter paddler also floats higher exposing more of their kayak to the wind. A shorter narrower kayak like the Elan will sit deeper in the water. This cuts windage and the greater draft also reduces sideways drift. Its low profile further cuts windage. The Elan is long and narrow enough (and was given a high enough prismatic coefficient) to be fast in a sprint. At the same time it puts such a small fooprint on the water that frictional drag at cruising speeds is especially low. This is an ideal combination for a smaller less powerful paddler. A kayak that "fits" a smaller paddler in these important ways means its paddler doesn’t need to be as strong as a bigger paddler to maintain the same speed (or turn in the same wind). Being smaller and lighter the Elan is easier to handle on land as well.
The Elan’s low cockpit, built in thigh braces, and some elbow room provide a smaller paddler a level of control rarely experienced by someone who normally rattles around in the cockpit. Like all Mariner Kayaks the Elan has: a comfortable, soft, dry ride and a secure neutrality in rough seas. Weathercocking and broaching are minimal. This along with a nimble responsiveness to the paddle and crisp carved turns that are precisely controlled by leaning, means a rudder is just unnecessary clutter: Its excellent surfing ability, raked ends that easily slide over kelp in either direction, neutral handling in wind and waves, and crisp control without a vulnerable rudder make the Elan a true ocean coast kayak like its larger relatives.