Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 23-10-2017, 19:46   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Annapolis, MD
Boat: Balance 451, 45' catamaran
Posts: 14
Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Hi all,

I just took delivery of Balance 451 Hull #7, Mahi Mahi, which was recently shown at Annapolis.

Quick Review: Love the boat! Exactly as promised by Phil Berman!

Longer review:

I've had her out on the Chesapeake for about 9-10 days now, including a 4-day cruise from Annapolis to Tangiers Island and back, so I've sailed her on all points of sail in varying conditions, from dead-calm to 20+ kts wind.

Equipment

Pretty fully equipped: generator, aircon, autopilot, hard top, etc. Daggerboards, of course. I had the first 'tall rig', which adds 4' to the mast from the "ICW" configuration on Hulls 1-6. The jib and screecher stay the same; the main gets another 4'. Carrying capacity of the hulls seems completely sufficient; no signs that the boat is overloaded.

Sailing

The boat performs well on all points of sail.

On a beam reach, generally very close to wind speed, even in light air: made 4.5 knots on 5 knots true. This seems to hold pretty well up to the point when you have to take a reef or pull in the screecher. As a note: the screecher is a MUST on this boat; when you put it up the boat really moves; usually the fastest boat out on the water unless someone has a race boat or a carbon-fiber multihull like an HH.

Going upwind, sails very well 38-40 degrees off the apparent wind using the blade jib. Tacking angle over ground seems to be about 100 degrees, which is nearly as good as my Sabre 36. In light air she's not quite as fast upwind as a well-sailed monohull, but not far off. The daggerboards work well and are easy to deploy; leeway close hauled is maybe 5-7 degrees (not a precise measurement). Tacking is very very easy.

Going downwind on the screecher, also does very well. About 120 degrees off the apparent wind seems ideal. Jibing is comfortable and pretty easy... there's a little bit of an art to pulling the screecher around the forestay, but its pretty quick once you've done it a couple of times.

Sail handling is also good. Main goes up very easily with the power winch. The luff cars are well done, so it comes down quickly if you need it. No problem putting in reefs and shaking them out, even while sailing downwind in 20-25 kts true. After some initial learning/fiddling around the stack pack works well when dropping sail.

Haven't really sailed with the spinnaker yet.

The boat sails well in light air (another important consideration in the Chesapeake). Moves quite acceptably in 3-4 knots true; I don't take down the sails until wind drops below 3 (unless I have a schedule to keep, of course), but she's still moving with 2 kts.

Under Power

I took the twin Volvo 40s. Wide open makes 9.3 kts @ 3200 RPM, estimated 5 GPH. Sensible fast-cruising speed is 8.2 kts @ 2400 RPM, estimated 2 GPH. Economy speed might be single engine 5.6 kts @ 2000 RPM, estimated 0.8 GPH. Easy to maneuver + dock under power.

Accommodations

I took the three-cabin version, which has a double berth in the port stern (most previous boats have had a single berth + office in that space). I had them put an office into the starboard forward compartment; this works well as a place to set up an office. The boat was very comfortable on a 4 day cruise with two couples. Also great for a day-sail with 9 people on board. Galley is well set up and very functional. The air conditioning is sufficient to keep the boat cool on a muggy Maryland day; in heat-pump mode sufficient for a cool October night (haven't been out in cold weather yet). Ventilation is excellent with the hatches open.

The helm station is awesome! Great visibility 360, except for areas blanketed by the screecher when it's deployed. Well integrated with the cockpit, so you can interact with crew/guests. Cockpit is easy to move around in.

Underwing clearance seems good. In heavy chop (a specialty of the Chesapeake) there is the occasional slap under the bridge deck, but definitely nothing I would call 'pounding'.

Build/Delivery/Commissioning Experience

Balance and Startown (the China-based builder) were easy to do business with and were very responsive whenever I had questions. The boat was delivered on schedule. The interior looks great, and there were very very few things needing correction post-delivery. Post-delivery support has been great.

Summary

Yeah, obviously I'm a proud new boat owner in love with his boat. But the boat really is exactly what Phil promised. She's fast, comfortable, and really easy to sail. Nicely balanced boat! I'm 100% convinced this was exactly the right boat for what I want to do.
__________________

__________________
craig.stanfill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23-10-2017, 20:02   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 434
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

"Base, sail away price for the Balance 451 begins at $470,000 FOB our China factory. A fully cruise equipped model runs approximately $630,000"
__________________

__________________
ranchero76 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 24-10-2017, 01:30   #3
Senior Cruiser
 
44'cruisingcat's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 7,421
Images: 69
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Sounds great, congratulations, and enjoy!
__________________
"You CANNOT be serious!"


John McEnroe
44'cruisingcat is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 24-10-2017, 04:59   #4
Registered User
 
LeeV's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Md
Boat: Corsair Marine 36 trimaran
Posts: 331
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Congratulations! Looking forward to seeing you out on the bay!

v/r,
__________________
LeeV
Corsair Marine 36' Trimaran
"MOMENTUM"
LeeV is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-10-2017, 05:14   #5
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Brighton, Michigan
Boat: FP Saba 50' - Ex-Factory 9/2018
Posts: 82
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Congratulations! I had an opportunity to spend some time on your boat in Annapolis chatting with Phil - Love the helm design.
__________________
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw
CalmSeasQuest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-10-2017, 09:12   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 121
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Thank you Craig for the great write up. We spent some time on your boat at the show and really liked it. Good luck and fair winds.

Gary
__________________
iliohale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-10-2017, 20:53   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: No home port, full time cruiser
Boat: Amel 53
Posts: 121
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Quote:
Originally Posted by craig.stanfill View Post
Hi all,

Going upwind, sails very well 38-40 degrees off the apparent wind using the blade jib. Tacking angle over ground seems to be about 100 degrees,
Congratulations on a great boat that sounds like great fun to sail!

But I am going to call "bogus" on your reported over the ground tacking angle. There is simple NO WAY that an AWA of 39 degrees and a leeway of 5 degrees will give you a tacking angle of 100 degrees, unless your boat is REALLY slow (which yours is most certainly NOT!) Trigonometry doesn't lie!

Lets just run some quick numbers (I am guessing here on speed...)

AWA = 39 Degrees
AWS = 12 knots
STW = 4 knots (the faster, the worse this gets!)

Those give you this:
TWS = 9.2 knots
TWA = 55 degrees
[Source: Apparent Wind Calculator | Hyde Sails Direct ]

Add in 5 degrees of leeway and you have a tacking angle OVER GROUND of 120 degrees.

At 9.2 knots of true wind and an apparent wind angle of 39 degrees to get to a true wind angle of 50 degrees you would have to be going about 3 knots, and we haven't even added leeway yet!

In short it might "seem to be" tacking through 100 degrees, but it is not even close.

I read all the time about boats that have "tacking angles of 100 degrees" but when you actually do the math, it turns out to be wishful thinking, or maybe just people thinking that change in compass heading is the same thing as tacking angle over ground. One guy even posted the track from his chart plotter showing 90 degree tacks as proof... "forgetting" to mention he had a 2 knot following current...
__________________
billknny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-10-2017, 07:32   #8
Marine Service Provider

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Marmaris
Boat: FP Orana 2010, Lipari 2011, Hélia 2013, Catana C 47 2013
Posts: 1,025
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Congrats Craig,


Seems like a lot of boat for the money.. Actually, 630.000 USD (533.000 €) looks very cheap for a well made and fully equipped cat with dagger boards. I am comparing with a Catana 47 (which is half meter longer) that costs with similar equipment min 750.000 €. I don't have a price for a new Outremer 45, but it should be similar to Catana 47.


The sail area / displacement rate doesn't look very good but if you are making the speed you are mentioned, this is almost as good as Catana 47 and Outremer 51 that I've sailed.


Enjoy it..


Yeloya
__________________
yeloya is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-10-2017, 21:29   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Annapolis, MD
Boat: Balance 451, 45' catamaran
Posts: 14
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

I also looked at the Outremer 45 and the Catana 47 (or a used 471)...

The main thing for me with the Catana was the helm position, not in terms of exposure but in terms of visibility - you are blind off the bow opposite whichever helm you are using. Very unsettling in a crowded harbor.

The Outremer - very nice boat, but to get the space I want I'd have needed to go to the 50/51' models... but those have 78' rigs and I am limited by a 75' bridge on the Severn River. Also the Outremer 51 has a really big sail plan, probably too much boat for me.

I know exactly what you mean in terms of the Sail Area Displacement (at least on paper). The main issue is that the Balance has a self-tacking blade jib rather than a Genoa. The boat loses a bit of power close hauled in light air, where a Genoa would probably give a bit more speed. But Phil is a big believer in the self-tacking jib, the the boat IS incredibly easy to tack. And it does move upwind quite nicely close hauled in as little as 5 kts true.

To somewhat help: I've got the first 'tall rig' in the 451, which adds 4' to the mast and .. dunno ... 100 square feet or so to the main. Improves light air performance.

Off the wind, the Screecher gives you all the sail area you can handle.

Finally: we've mostly had good wind this October (10-25 kts) and I've sailed with 1-2 reefs pretty often (on the tall rig first reef is 18 kts apparent, second is 23 kts apparent - that't the guidance from the builder). On the last trip mostly making about 8 kts, sailing very conservatively, seeing 10-11 on occasion. This was with unfavorable winds - either directly upwind or directly downwind, very few opportunities for a beamish reach.

And, yes, a LOT of boat for the money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yeloya View Post
Congrats Craig,


Seems like a lot of boat for the money.. Actually, 630.000 USD (533.000 €) looks very cheap for a well made and fully equipped cat with dagger boards. I am comparing with a Catana 47 (which is half meter longer) that costs with similar equipment min 750.000 €. I don't have a price for a new Outremer 45, but it should be similar to Catana 47.


The sail area / displacement rate doesn't look very good but if you are making the speed you are mentioned, this is almost as good as Catana 47 and Outremer 51 that I've sailed.


Enjoy it..


Yeloya
__________________
craig.stanfill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-10-2017, 00:59   #10
Senior Cruiser
 
44'cruisingcat's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 7,421
Images: 69
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

I suggest you don't reef the main according to apparent wind speed. You could get caught out by a high boat speed masking a quite strong true wind.

I'm happy enough to use AWS as my guide for headsail reefing, but reef the main according to TWS.

You never know when you might need to turn upwind, for a MOB situation or whatever. Best to only carry the appropriate amount of mainsail for that.
__________________
"You CANNOT be serious!"


John McEnroe
44'cruisingcat is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 29-10-2017, 04:03   #11
Marine Service Provider

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Marmaris
Boat: FP Orana 2010, Lipari 2011, Hélia 2013, Catana C 47 2013
Posts: 1,025
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

It still seems to me that the sail plan is pretty conservative.. Comparing with Nautitech Open 40 which 5 ft shorter;


Balance 451 : weight 8.400 kg N40: 8.500 kg, B 451 upwind sail area: 90 sqm N40 :91 sqm (both self tacking gib)


I think Nauthitech is a good basis of comparison as she has also slimmer hulls.


I do agree however that self tacking gib is the best option as long as one has a screecher/genneaker for running.


Cheers


Yeloya
__________________
yeloya is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-10-2017, 19:37   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Annapolis, MD
Boat: Balance 451, 45' catamaran
Posts: 14
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

Before responding: Numbers are fun, but the important thing is "Are you happy with how the boat sails?" and for me the answer is an enthusiastic "yes".

That having been said...

Open 40 is an interesting comparison in several ways. The N40 was on my list, but I wanted daggerboards, so it came off. Nautitech is, of course, a very nice boat, slightly different design philosophy. Similar displacement, but shorter water line.

Comparing sail area:

Mainsail: N40=678 sq ft; B451=706, B451 Tall = 770 (estimate)
Jib: N40=301 sq ft; B451=260 sq ft;

Phil had originally put an ICW-compliant rig on the boat (63' air draft). I asked for a bigger rig because I don't need to go through the ditch, so he added 4' to the mast and gave her a bigger main (the jib and screecher stay the same). The tall rig seems to be popular: Hull #8 is going to have the tall rig. I'm estimating it raises SAD from 22.2 to 23.8, for what that's worth.

But the key to the boat is lightness more than lots of sail area: The D/L of just under 109 vs. 127 for the Nautitech. Phil's goal is a boat that is fast, comfortable, and easy to sail; he achieves this by building a light boat.

So: overall, the Balance has similar displacement but has a longer water line, dagger boards and a bit more sail, so I'd expect performance close-hauled to be a bit better.

Off the wind, the screecher is 711 square feet ... generates a LOT of boat speed. 18.5T boat, 1480 sq ft sail... that's a lot of power. On a beam reach with decent wind the boat really flies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by yeloya View Post
It still seems to me that the sail plan is pretty conservative.. Comparing with Nautitech Open 40 which 5 ft shorter;


Balance 451 : weight 8.400 kg N40: 8.500 kg, B 451 upwind sail area: 90 sqm N40 :91 sqm (both self tacking gib)


I think Nauthitech is a good basis of comparison as she has also slimmer hulls.


I do agree however that self tacking gib is the best option as long as one has a screecher/genneaker for running.


Cheers


Yeloya
__________________
craig.stanfill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-10-2017, 10:35   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Annapolis, MD
Boat: Balance 451, 45' catamaran
Posts: 14
Re: Balance 451 Mahi Mahi: Quick review from new owner

As a note on performance: I'm still a novice with this boat; I have a lot to learn about how to get the most out of her. So whenever I quote any numbers on what I'm seeing... keep in mind that they will only improve as I get to know the boat better and improve my skills. In particular, there's still a LOT I don't understand about how to optimally use the Screecher.

Stay tuned.... I'll update as I learn the boat.
__________________

__________________
craig.stanfill is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Balance 451 - Yanmar vs Volvo craig.stanfill Multihull Sailboats 30 21-06-2017 13:56
Anyone want to review this boat? Balance 451 Red Herring Multihull Sailboats 10 19-06-2015 16:48
Balance 451 scarlet Multihull Sailboats 9 09-05-2015 18:16
Eating 1 of 2 Mahi Mahi Guy Provisioning: Food & Drink 90 16-04-2014 16:17
Mahi Mahi Fish Recipe (Do not read if on diet) captainbri Provisioning: Food & Drink 15 29-12-2011 21:52



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:19.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.