Charmaine du Toit, co-founder and owner of Du Toit Yacht Design, has been awarded the…
The international sailing press was in Cape Town recently to sea trial the first Balance 526 sailing catamaran from the Cape Town Waterfront. The Balance 526 is the first such model designed by Du Toit Yacht Design, produced by U.S.-based Phillip Berman’s Balance Catamaran brand and manufactured by Nexus Yachts in St. Francis.
The range of Balance Catamarans is built by the well-known Paarman brothers at Nexus Yachts in Cape St Francis on the East Coast of South Africa. The inspiration for the Balance 526 arose from a passion to design and build the finest performance voyaging catamarans for a couple or small family who want to voyage in speed and comfort yet carry significant cruising payloads.
The Balance 526 can obtain top speeds of over 20 knots, fully laden, without being hard-pressed. The Balance 526 is designed to be strong and able to stand up to very bad weather, but she is also light. She is built using a combination of E-glass, carbon fibre, Closed Cell Foam, composite bulkheads and the entire laminate structure is epoxy. She has fully retractable dagger boards and is designed for short-handed sailing in comfort and safety. Her lines are elegant and gracious with a practical and comfortable yet luxurious interior. The aft cockpit and saloon floors are on the same level, increasing the spaciousness of the saloon to the aft cockpit which provides great 360° visibility. She can comfortably accommodate six people in three double cabins.
Du Toit Yacht Design designed the yacht in partnership with Berman, with a mast and boom supplied by Cape Town’s Southern Spars, and sails supplied by Cape Town’s Ullman sails. Today, the Balance 526 is a showcase of South African quality and ingenuity.
Du Toit and Berman have designed a unique cantilevered piloting station they call the Versa Helm – the first of its kind in the world. In warm and inviting weather the helm is set above the cockpit in open air. As the weather turns foul the helm is dropped onto the floor of the cockpit where the helmsman can pilot the boat looking through the salon windows in total comfort away from the elements.
The yacht’s builder, Nexus Yachts, is in St. Francis Bay and is run and operated by legendary South African professional surfer Jonathan Paarman, along with his brothers Roger and Mark, together with calamari fishing executive and investor John Henrick. The factory currently employs 42 people and with the success of the Balance 526 new models are being designed with plans for rapid expansion.
Nexus Yachts formed a partnership with Berman to build the Balance branded cats because they recognized that marketing, distribution, sales and service for an international product requires an on the ground sales force to compete.
“Too many South African companies,” says Roger Paarman, “try to do it all themselves, especially in the marine industry, and do so with mixed results and weak brands that take decades to develop and take hold in the marketplace. Berman – with his extensive knowledge of the international yacht market for catamarans has a deep appreciation for how the market is moving at any given time as well as an established sales and service force to bring real results.”
“Too often we South Africans try to compete on price alone,” says Jonathan Paarman, “rather than on design innovation, quality and brand, brand service and brand support. Berman was a particularly good fit for us because we shared his passion for excellence, ethics in business, and a commitment to training and growing a diverse South African work force.”
According to co-owner of the company, John Henrick, “The future of our nation is tied to job training, development, and exports. People find dignity, joy and meaning through work, provided they are treated with respect and work in an atmosphere of support and encouragement. We are a small company, but view each and every employee as a part of our family. Far too many companies fail to see that the secret to securing the best and most productive workers is to provide the best work environment.”
“Creating jobs, products to export, bringing training and growth to South Africans is essential to our mission to create the world’s best catamaran yachts,” added Berman. “It is a win-win for Balance Catamarans, Nexus Yachts, our customers, our workers, suppliers, and for the Rainbow Nation itself.”
Read more about the Balance 526, here