It’s only been eight years since the French Catana Group, having garnered respect for its twin-hulled Catana Catamarans sailing yachts over the past two decades, launched its more accessibly priced 40 to 70ft (12.2 to 21.3m) Bali brand. Most are sailing catamarans, while two motoryachts have been developed more recently.
The Bali sailing cats have been attracting owners and winning awards – and 2021’s 4.8 model is a good example of why.
Onboard, attention to quality finishing and space are the first things that come to mind. “It appeals to families a lot,” says Alexandra Tricot – yacht broker and Bali Catamarans manager for the Asiamarine dealership, based in Hong Kong – which also exclusively represents the brand in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Having worked at Catana’s shipyard in France and brought up in a sailing family, Tricot is well placed to comment on Asia’s debut hull of the new 4.8, which Asia-Pacific Boating experienced through its paces on a steamy May morning in Sai Kung, Hong Kong.
“This is typical of the Bali concept of family or group cruising on a catamaran that feels very close to the water,” he says.
As we speak in the large open main-deck galley, Tricot gestures across its bar counter-top perimeter towards an adjacent generous-sized dining table and chairs set up towards the cockpit sofa seating, saying: “It has all the Bali innovations and features, like the ‘electric tilting door’ that closes the back of this area.”
This feature is later demonstrated: with the press of a button, a subtle glass-door closure, with a door that opens at its centre, drops down to seal out any inclement weather, or seal in air-conditioning in the open-plan living areas.
The saloon and galley area features a chart table, and a certain amount of navigation, communication and manoeuvring controls forward on this level, with a view across the bow for keeping watch when underway.
“The hard deck forward is a chief differentiator among catamarans,” Tricot adds. “Many had trampolines here before – Bali was one of the first to put a solid deck down.” This is certainly utilised to the full, with a wide area that can be transformed into loungers and sun pad cushioning.
With the forward door and fully retractable windows opened and the saloon/cockpit divider up, natural ventilation creates an effective breeze through the main deck. The front deck has an easy-to-lift section that exposes a drainage path, should lively swells bring an unwanted amount of water underfoot.
The helm station has sailing lines positioned very close by, making it practical for easy two-handed operation
We’re now back in the galley, and it rivals many a Hong Kong kitchen with its equipment: a full-size oven, a four-ring hob, microwave, dishwasher, large double-door fridge-freezer, plenty of storage cabinets and drawers – and a water-maker for those longer cruises. Inset into the wood-topped dining table, under two lift-off panels – are chilling tubs for drinks or food.
The cockpit is home to a plancha-style grill, very popular for casual dining or snacking when the anchor is dropped. A davit is fitted for simple dispatch if a tender and an option can be fitted for it to operate electrically, and an electric swim platform can be an option onboard the Bali 4.8.
The flybridge, home to the helm station, has sailing lines positioned very close by, making it practical for easy two-handed operation. An electric winch to starboard makes for fast sail handling, and one can be added to port as well – although the standard handle-operated version will suit many. This is a cruising sailing catamaran, designed for relaxation and comfort. On an occasionally windless morning, with wind speed rarely rising above 13 knots, our hull managed to pick up to around 8 knots.
Cabins are below deck in both hulls; there is separate access for the master on the port side and two guest cabins on the starboard. Space around beds, bathrooms and heads are roomy. The master hull has room for a washing machine and double basins in its ensuite bathroom. Headroom is generously tall – helped by the raised main bridge deck, which helps the two hulls to clear waves easily and avoid their impact on smooth cruising. Storage is offered to the maximum on the lower decks and everywhere else on the yacht.
The division of spaces allows for conversational privacy between about 20 passengers divided between the flybridge, cockpit settee, swim platform, saloon and bow deck.
“The hard deck forward is a chief differentiator among catamarans, many had trampolines here before – Bali was one of the first to put a solid deck down” – Alexandra Tricot, Asiamarine
Warm wood veneer and upholstery fabric on the main deck and elsewhere is part of an optional ‘Elegance package’. Key markets for Bali Catamarans are France, Europe and America, but Tricot says Asian interest is picking up, and Asiamarine is noticing positive responses from would-be owners – particularly due to the space they offer.
“This 4.8 model is so much larger than similar-length monohulls or motoryachts,” he explains as we examine the bulbous side construction of the hulls that affect the beam on all deck levels.
Next up for Asia will be Bali’s latest model, the 5.4, set to arrive this year.
Technical Specifications: Bali 4.8
Max draft: 1.4m
Displacement (min/max load): 14.8t/22t
Max upwind sail area: 179sqm
Engines: 2 x 57HP (optional 45HP)
Max Speed (under sail): 14kts
Cabins: 3 (optional 4th cabin)
Crew cabin: 1