My name is Phil Berman. I own Balance Catamarans as well as The Multihull
Company. I am 60 years old and have sailing cats since the age of 11.
I do not follow this forum closely, or post too it much, but stated something to the effect that, "Balance Catamarans will not offer a guarantee weight for their boats."
This is untrue unless this person thinks that a builder
can craft an 8 to 10 ton yacht and arrive at level of dead accuracy for each yacht they build. Any builder
that states such is not a truth teller. We are happy to offer a guarantee weight for our boats, give or take a few hundred pounds, because during any build you can have a change of vendors for a range of parts
. Dead accuracy is not possible.
What we cannot do at Balance is guarantee an exact weight for the options or added gear
people put on their boats. We base our advertised weights on the base boat without any options, with a very long and detailed equipment
list of what we offer at the base price
. I believe we have the most detailed equipment
list for our base boat offered in the industry.
When we build a boat we look at the buyers equipment list and do a general weight study that enables us to position their equipment where it belongs for the boat to sit properly on her lines. The first 526 we built had a massive amount of equipment beyond the base boat, yet when she went into the water
she sat perfectly. That she crossed the Atlantic and hit 22 knots at one point and rescued three French sailors from a sinking ship, at 1 am in the morning, is a point of pride for all of us. Our crew were called out for high praise by the U.S. Coast Guard.
As I pointed out recently in a piece I did for Multihull
Sailor called Buying
a Multihull: 14 Things to Think About, too many people who are inspired to purchase
a performance cat fail to focus on what is most important - the quality, weight, volume and strength of the hulls and decks - the fiberglass parts
. On this score I cannot see how anyone in the catamaran
industry is offering lighter or stronger fiberglass
parts than Balance unless they are using far weaker laminate schedules or constructing all carbon hull
All of our boats are closed cell foam, composite bulkheads, reinforced in carbon in all high load areas, and we use only vinyl ester resin in the 451 and epoxy
on the 486 and all the larger yachts we build. We make our own composite doors, and seating, and davits
on the 526 ourselves - at great time and cost, to save weight. If one of our boats appears "heavier" than another on paper, for her length, it can only be due to the extra or better gear
we offer, or because the boat we are being compared to has far lower fiberglass volume or far fewer cabinets or cheaper lighter fittings; is in fact a smaller, cheaper boat all around.
If weight is all that matters to a buyer, if someone is satisfied with Lexan
windows over marine
glass windows, we are very happy to offer them this lighter, inferior product for a discounted price - so long as they do not call us or later moan on this forum about their leaking or crazing windows after five years, or the horribly costly job to replace them. There are many ways to make a boat lighter and cheaper, but often at the expense of durability and function. One must, forgive me, seek a balance!
Someone on this forum was comparing the 526 to the Outremer 51, which is curious to me because the Balance 526 is a much larger yacht. These are totally different boats in design, price, quality, and volumes inside and out. You could, after all, take the hull
of an Outremer 51 and stick it inside a Balance 526 hull. Our overall volume is much greater, both in the hulls and salon
than an Outremer 51. We are in fact closer in size internally to the Outremer 5X. What we are is far lighter than the Outremer 51 or 5 X for the volumes we offer because our fiberglass parts are much lighter, stronger, high end carbon/epoxy with spray finished hulls and decks. Totally different build levels and materials and anyone with build experience sees this instantly upon inspection
There is nothing at all wrong with an Outremer! They have always been narrow, flat sided performance cats that were never designed to carry significant payloads.
When we designed the Balance 526 the only competitor we had in mind was Gunboat. Our goal was very simple - produce a more live-able, practical, high performance cruising cat of the highest quality at a lower price than Gunboat. We have done that with aplomb and are currently building our fourth 526 hull, with two of them heading to North America this year and next. We just launched another 451 and the quality for value is amazing.
We never set out to compete or build boats for people who are prepared to sacrifice all comfort and payloads for the sake of speed. Building such a catamaran
is very easy. Make her long, light, narrow, put in very little cabinetry, equip her sparsely and there you go. At the age of 60 that just isn't the sort of boat I want to voyage on, or any of our customers. But such a boat is far more cheaply built than a Balance, and I've got no issue with those who want that sort of boat or cannot afford a Balance. That is the sort of cat I owned in my surfer/backpacker days.
Today, I want a boat to carry the spaces and the comforts I need when voyaging - I want a dive compressor
, some air conditioning
, a small generator
, kayaks, washer dryer, two fridge and freezer
, etc, etc. So how do you still go fast and carry all this stuff? You have to build the boat very light and strong, flare her hulls, and give her plenty of sail. Unfortunately it costs a lot more money
to build such a boat, wherever you are doing it.
I am privileged to oversee the sale
of nearly 100 used catamarans a year at the Multihull Company, which I also own and operate. I get to sail on all of them, survey
all of them, and have a very good idea of how catamaran brands compare in quality, speed and function to one another. I can say that every catamaran on the market is a fit for someone based on their budget
, needs, and desires. I see a lot of people obsess over what cat to buy, but the reality is most of them will work. At issue, really, is which one is the best fit for THEM, for their needs, not the sales agent or broker.
The only way I have ever found to assist a person buying
a cat is to learn who they are, what they are after, and what is their budget
The most frustrating question I get at boat shows is, "Tell me why your boat is better than that Lagoon
, or Gunboat, or Outremer, etc, etc." I always respond in the same manner. "I have no clue. I do not know you. I do not know your aims, your desires, your payload needs, spatial needs, the features you desire, performance cravings, cruising agenda or budget, etc." A yacht broker wants to knows these things before spouting off on why there boat is better than someone's else's for a specific person. A salesperson just wants to blabber. Outremer, Catana
, Gunboat, Lagoon
, Fountaine Pajot
, etc, etc, there is nothing "wrong" with any of these catamarans. I've sailed and sold all of them and will continue to do so. What is best FOR YOU is all about finding the best fit for your budget and sailing agenda.