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Feature Boat – Element

New boat from a ‘new’ builder

New boat from a ‘new’ builder

A Canadian manufacturer with 30 years of experience building big sailing trimarans, search-and-rescue airboats and other composite vessels and products for military rescue decided two years ago to have a little fun by building a recreational powerboat. The result was Element Yachts, and the first boat, a 27-foot express cruiser called the Element 270 EXC, debuted this year.

“It’s a new brand we came up with,” says James Countouris, who founded Element Yachts at the Erin, Ontario, manufacturing facility in which he and his father had built trimarans under the Contour Yachts name since the 1970s. “We wanted to have some fun and build in a smaller size. You wouldn’t believe the complexity of trying to get a 50-foot trimaran out the door.”

That isn’t to say the Element 270 is simplistic. Designed to be lightweight and rigid, the boat is all vacuum-bagged, with a solid fiberglass hull and Core-Cell foam coring above the waterline. Plexis adhesives bond its fully molded, composite grid stringer system to the hull and one-piece deck. Building the one-piece deck entails using complex molds, Countouris says, but results in a seamless finished product. Element Yachts built the molds and tooling at its 20,000-square-foot plant.

Countouris set out to pair the modern construction with a seaworthy deep-vee hull. Out of the two-piece mold pops a boat with generous bow flare, tumblehome aft, lifting strakes, and 24 degrees of deadrise at the transom. It’s meant for coastal and inland boating, and is powered by a gas or diesel sterndrive. Countouris says the boat is quick to plane, fuel efficient and cruises at around 27 mph, topping out at 43 mph, with a 320-hp gasoline sterndrive.

The deck and cabin layouts offer a functional take on the express/walkaround design. The galley is up on the deck level, which leaves room down below for storage, a dedicated berth and a head compartment with a sliding door. “It has a full berth — as wide as a double and as long as a queen — where on a typical 27 you’d have a brutal little V-berth,” says Countouris. The head and cabin have a teak sole, teak accents and Corian countertops.

Element went with a wide walkaround, and Countouris reasons that the interior space given up would only be usable for additional storage. He says the security afforded by the side decks and bow rail — while allowing access to the bow for anchoring, docking, fishing or reaching the forward seating area — is worth the sacrifice in cabin space.

At the helm, a wraparound windshield extends aft toward the cockpit. The ergonomic helm station to starboard, with companion seat to port, was inspired by the automotive industry, Countouris says. There is lounge seating abaft the helm, with storage space the company says could double as a fishbox or live well. The galley is abaft the companion seat and comes equipped with a stove, sink, refrigerator and storage.

The self-bailing cockpit contains in-deck storage, the engine box, and port and starboard jump seats. The starboard seat is removable for access to the transom door and swim platform.

While Countouris says the boat is “very livable” for cruising, he adds that it also is well-suited for dayboating. “The boat is small enough and nimble enough that you can just go out for a rip, and it’s no big production,” he says. “It’s kind of a like a center console that way.”


LOA: 27 feet

BEAM: 10 feet, 1 inch

DRAFT: 2 feet

DISPLACEMENT: 5,900 pounds

HULL TYPE: deep-vee


TANKAGE: 110 gallons fuel, 28 gallons water, 28 gallons waste

ENGINE OPTION: gas or diesel sterndrive to 420 hp

SPEED: 43 mph top, 27 mph cruise (with 320-hp Volvo GXi)

PRICE: $129,000

CONTACT: Element Yachts, Erin, Ontario. Phone: (519) 833-2536.