Much like her smaller sailing sister, the 421, the Balance 451 was designed to strike, well—a balance. The thought behind the two designs was to find the perfect midpoint between comfort and performance, and build a strong boat that was easy to sail and maintain.
Designers Phillip Berman and Roger Hill set about building a slightly larger model in the line with a continued eye toward performance but with the challenge of keeping the air draft under 65 feet so the boats could clear fixed coastal bridges. The decision was made to enhance performance by means other than a taller rig. The hulls are a little finer, sharper, and longer forward, and the overall displacement is 18,500 lbs, which is only 1,500 lbs heavier than the 421. The boom has been lengthened so the sail area was increased with the help of significant roach.
|Sail Area||966 sq. ft.|
|Fuel capacity||79 gal.|
|Water capacity||158 gal.|
The interiors of the 421 and 451 are also similar, with a slightly larger and more workable galley on the new boat. A long settee and an outboard-facing nav station complete the inside social area while the cockpit contains two seating benches around a clever fold-down dining table. A hardtop that covers the cockpit is standard and with the optional solar array, energy management is made easier. The raised helm station is to starboard and visibility forward is good, but the winch to handle all lines is in the cockpit—which can either make things tough when you’re alone, or easy if you have crew that you don’t want in the way at the helm.
An unusual feature is a self-tacking jib on a curved track which, combined with an in-boom furling mainsail, makes easy work of sail management even for a singlehander. Dual daggerboards will help with upwind performance and are a change from the smaller boat, which has fixed keels.
The owner’s version that I saw included a master stateroom in the starboard hull. A departure from most other cat layouts is that the berth is in the bow while the head is aft in the hull. That’s good because more air is likely to flow into the sleeping quarters, but it’s not great for noise from the anchor locker, and motion under way.
The port hull includes two guest cabins, each with its own head. The finish is nice with a high-gloss varnish, though the overall design feels smaller than other 45-foot cats in her class.
The hulls are narrow blades that angle back at the deck. The striking bow shape makes the boat look aggressive and businesslike and fast. We hope to find out just how fast on an upcoming test sail—stay tuned.
Other Choices: Sailors interested in the Balance will probably also look at boats like the Leopard 44, and the Catana 47.
For more information, visit Balance Catamarans.