Following the production of the 421 and 451 in China, Balance Catamarans was relaunched by Phillip Berman, Jonathan Paarman, Anton Du Toit and Roger Hill with a mission to build the ultimate blue water cruising catamarans: fast and safe yachts that can be sailed shorthanded, that are simple to maintain, can carry a decent payload and that are comfortable to sail and live aboard.
Phil Berman traces the roots or at least the idea for the company back to 1979 when the Hobiecat World Championships were held in South Africa. The Hobiecats for the races were built in South Africa which lead to start of what is now a booming ecosystem in the country: catamaran manufacturing. The Hobiecats were sold to local sailors after the championships and this fueled a growing community of catamaran enthusiasts in South Africa.
Phil was heavily involved with Dolphin catamarans and was the main distributor for that brand for many years. You can see some of the influence that this partnership with Philipe Pouvreau and the Pimenta family from Brazil had on the development of Balance.
The range of Balance Catamarans is built by the Paarman brothers at Nexus Yachts in Cape St Francis on the East Coast of South Africa.
Starting off with the Balance 526, the company created the Balance 526 (2015), the 760 (2017) the 482 and the 442. A 620, a 680 and a 762 make up the rest of the range.
The team behind the design is one of South Africa’s most successful yacht designers: Anton du Toit.
Previously, the company built the Balance 421 (this was originally an Australian boat called the Montebello 12.5 built on the Gold Coast – they bought the molds from Montebello and shipped them to the new factory) and the 451 (2014) which was built with partners in China. Later came the 601 which was built in South Africa.
Balance 451 (2014)
Designed by New Zealander Roger Hill, the 451 set the early DNA for the Balance brand. Slim hulls and wave piercing bows with hulls and deck foam cored, plus cored bulkheads, floors, bimini, and cabinetry.
The 451 was built with Chinese builder Lee Xiangong. These are nippy boats and great value for money. The bridedeck and headroom are low compared to the newer range.
Balance 601 (2013)
The last 601 was manufactured by Balance in 2019. This model will be replaced by the newer 620 which more closely follows the 526 design.
A true blue water boat. Very robust, she sails well up and downwind and is fast (8-12kts in average conditions and capable of 20+), with high bridge deck clearance, a big load capacity and plenty of fuel and water range.
Balance 526 (2015)
The design that supercharged the Balance brand, the 526 is a very successful model. Read our full Balance 526 review here.
With wave piercing bows, foam core hulls, decks and furniture, and carbon reinforced, the 482 offers great performance and head turning design.
The 482 can be ordered with either dagger-boards or high performance fixed keels, just like her longer sister, the 526.
The “baby” of the range that has evolved from the successful 526, the 442 will still move.
She’s been designed to operate short-handed or even single handed, with a self tacking blade jib, reefing station, and the famous Versa-helm design that you will see on the bigger boats. She comes with dual daggerboards.
The next step up from the 526 is the 620: the replacement for the older 601 design.
She is sleeker and higher off the water than the older design. The 620 has a powerful sail-plan and will sail along at wind-speed when the wind speed is 7 knots or higher.
An even longer model that has evolved from the 526, the 680 can be built with our without a fly bridge. Balance claim that she is as fast or faster than any 68 foot catamaran on the market today. Each Balance 680 is a custom project, a high performance world voyaging catamaran
The 760F is a high performance luxury cat for those sailors who want a flybridge. As you can see, she moves!
The largest design to have evolved off the Balance 526. She will comfortably average 14 to 16 knots over 24 hour periods and exceed 25 knots. A semi-custom project for customers with deep pockets.
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