Fast cruising cat: the Balance 526 at Miami

There’s a new cat in town, you’ll have the chance to see her this month in Miami.

The new Balance 526 sails off the coast of South Africa.Sarah Phillips of Phileon Productions

Conceived by Phil Berman at the Multihull Company, designed by South African Anton Du Toit, and built by Nexus Yachts in Cape St. Francis, South Africa, the Balance is a fascinating addition to the multihull field. The question with every catamaran these days is where it falls on the continuum from payload to performance. Is it more luxury condo? Or more sailboat? From the outset this Balance was conceived as a performance-cruising sailboat first, with decisions working backwards from a hull-fineness ratio that would guarantee steady runs of 10 knots or more. After that come the luxurious living spaces.

The Balance 526 is headed to Miami for the upcoming boat show.Sarah Phillips of Phileon Productions

Notice the innovative helm arrangement at the bulkhead, offering two steering positions on an articulating binnacle: up high for all-round visibility; or down low and sheltered under the hard top. Note, too, the dearth of stainless steel—rails and posts are created from lightweight composites. Finally, take note of hull shape and the perfect absence of chines or other tricks that add volume to the interior at the expense of turbulence in the water flow.

In Cape Town last December I sailed Ondine, hull number 1, shortly after her initial launch. We made a joyful 11 knots of boatspeed, close reaching under Table Mountain into 14 knots of breeze. We'll have a full review of this boat later in the season. In the meantime, you'll have the chance to see her for yourself at the Miami International Boatshow (February 11–15, 2016).

For more information, contact The Multihull Company.

Ondine has made waves in the news recently for the rescue of 3 sailors en route to Miami.Tim Murphy