Media release from Balance Catamarans on the launch of the first Balance 442
Balance Catamarans® has launched the first Balance 442 in Cape Town, South Africa – the latest performance cruising catamaran in the Balance Catamarans® range.
The launch of the first Balance 442 follows closely the launch of the award-winning Balance 482 in May of 2021. The Balance 482 has already won three prestigious industry awards: Cruising World’s Best Performance Catamaran, Sailing World’s Boat of the Year: Best Multihull, and SAIL Magazine Best Boats Best Multihull Cruising Boat 40-50ft.
Named Umoya by her owners, the first Balance 442 was launched at Cape Town’s prestigious Royal Cape Yacht Club. Umoya is a Zulu word meaning wind – an apt name for such an exciting vessel. Mark Delany, Managing Director of Balance Catamarans Cape Town, Anton du Toit, and his team of designers from Du Toit Yacht Design and the yacht’s new owners attended the launch.
“The excitement and gratification we feel whenever we launch a newly designed and tooled Balance Catamaran is enormous,” says Balance Founder and President Phil Berman, who was able to see the final stages of the build when he was recently in South Africa. “We started this project over two years ago and my hat is off – as always – to Anton du Toit and his team and Mark Delany and his team. “
“The launch of Umoya is an important step in completing our full range of Balance Catamarans. With Umoya’s launch, we could not – as a team – be more excited or proud of this new performance cruising catamaran!”
The Balance 442, like the Balance 482, is built at the Balance Catamarans Cape Town factory in South Africa. The Balance Cape Town factory is headed up by second -generation boat builder Mark Delany, whose family has been building catamarans for 33 years. The seas of Cape Town – known as the “Cape of Storms” – are notoriously windy and rough, and Balance Catamarans Cape Town is renowned for building robust vessels to withstand these seas. The factory also manufactures semi-custom Balance Catamarans over 65 feet, namely the Balance 680 and Balance 750.
“I am so proud of our team for their hard work and dedication to creating this beautiful performance cruising catamaran,” says Mark Delany. “This is an exciting time at Balance Catamarans Cape Town. We are busy with a demanding build schedule that stretches out for years. The B442 is a big part of the reason for this.”
The Balance 442 is co-designed by world champion catamaran racer Phillip Berman and award-winning yacht designer, Anton du Toit. The design principle of the Balance 442 is in keeping with the rest of the Balance Catamarans’ range: Her perfect balance makes her not only fast to sail but also spacious and luxurious to live on.
Every design and building element – down to the smallest detail – takes into consideration how it interacts with every other element with a Balance Catamaran. Berman and du Toit are both racers at heart yet have extensive cruising experience. For them, having a catamaran that balances powerful sailing performance with elegance and comfort is non-negotiable.
“Her sea trials got us all really excited,” says co-designer Anton du Toit. “Creating a 44-foot catamaran that can carry all the equipment required for liveaboard voyaging, yet still sail smartly on all points of sail, is far more challenging than doing so on larger catamarans – and the 442 is a great success in this regard. The 442 blasted along between 9 and 13 knots on our sea trials and on a cruising cat that is just fantastic! And she feels no smaller than the 482 – we are really proud of the interior space utilization and layout as well.”
The 442 and 482 range were both designed and launched as a result of feedback from Balance customers who wanted the innovation of a Balance in a smaller size and lower price point. Both models have had strong market demand with the Balance 442, placing 30 orders before the first vessel was launched.
“The demand for our high-performance sailing catamarans is unprecedented at the moment,” adds Berman, who notes that around the world – for the majority of builders – catamaran buyers are planning their purchases and builds three- to- four years in advance.
The Balance 442’s layout and features are similar to the 482, the recent winner of three independent juried competitions for best performance multihull. The Balance 442 is expertly crafted in sandwich construction, using E-glass with a PVC foam core and carbon fiber for local support and reinforcement structures. Her forward-raked wave piercing bows and bold contemporary lines contribute to an elegant-looking vessel with great sailing performance.
The Balance 442 has a powerful 75- square meter main sail, meaning she can sail easily even in light airs, while other catamarans are motoring. Many Balance 442 buyers plan to cruise the world, so she is designed to be sailed easily single- or double-handed. Contributing to this are the self-tacking blade jib, helm reefing station, and innovative VersaHelm® design, an important feature on all Balance Catamarans – a breakthrough that has been widely copied in the industry. The permanent up- and- down helm stations and VersaHelm make helming the boat in both fair and inclement weather easy while never losing four-corner visibility at any time.
When the wind gets strong, it is easy for a couple to furl in her headsails and reef her down and keep on sailing. All the Balance 442’s reefing and sail management takes place at the upper helm station. Furling headsails, electric winches and a mainsheet system that operates without a traveller mean that she is easily sailed by sailors lacking racing experience.
The Balance 442 can be ordered either with dual daggerboards or high-performance fixed keels. The fully retractable dual daggerboards draw less than 3’ 6” inches of water so shallow waters present no impediment to the Balance 442. Upwind performance is dramatically improved with the boards in the down position, while off-wind performance is enhanced with the boards raised. In dangerous cross seas, with the daggerboards up, the Balance 442 will side-slip to avoid the tripping effect associated with large fin-keeled catamarans. Most of the owners of the vessels on order have opted to go with the daggerboard option.
The Balance 442 was carefully designed by du Toit and Berman, who spent significant hours on her design. She has superb living ergonomics and her interior sight lines are expansive. Her real wood, foam core, handmade interior offers state-of-the-art beds, cabinetry, and interior furniture.
The configuration of the first Balance 442 is an owners’ version that accommodates up to six people for a long voyage. The starboard hull is the owner’s hull, containing a large cabin in the forward part of the hull together with luxurious heads and an enormous shower in the aft section of the hull. The port hull accommodates four guests in two double cabins, with a shared head and stand-alone shower. A four cabin, eight passenger version is also offered.
The 442’s innovative salon table converts into a queen-sized bed allowing owners to host a fourth couple or kids when sailing in warmer climates. It is also the perfect place to curl up with an enjoyable book or sleep anytime!
The Balance 442 has great flow and openness between the main salon and the cockpit. The salon boasts s a large U-shaped galley with more cabinetry than any comparison catamaran of the same size or class.
Many of the options of the 442 are customisable, such as the type of wood for the cabinets, flooring and countertop material. Fabrics for the saloon couch and bed bolsters can also be chosen by her owners from a wide selection of materials.
On her first sea trials off Cape Town, the Balance 442 excelled.
“This was another excellent example of why building quality catamarans in South Africa was undoubtedly the best decision we made,” added Berman. “South Africa is the biggest catamaran manufacturer in the world after France for good reason: the quality of the South African builders is superb in part because of the rough seas there that traditionally have created a sailing culture that respects the ocean both for its beauty and its threats.”