Yacht Class n°29 (june-july-august 2022)
BALI CATAMARANS – CATANA GROUP
Drawing on the innovations of Catana Group’s founder, Olivier Poncin, the Bali 4.4 is characterized by her incredible habitability and is as warm in the cold season as she is airy in the warm season. Easy to manoeuvre, her programme is aimed more at coastal cruising than offshore sailing.
Written by Christophe Varène – Photos : All rights reserved
Even if most of the catamarans are designed to sail under a warm, bright sunshine, sometimes the conditions of our sea trials can also be closer to those in the polar zones than in the Caribbean. Late January in La Rochelle, the thermometer indicated – 2°C on board the first Bali 4.4, a biting sensation accentuated by a light breeze oscillating between 10 and 15 knots. With somewhat numb fingers, the notion of easy handling took on its full meaning. Thus, leaving the port, with frozen fender knots, then hoisting the sails, with blocks of ice falling from the folds, were carried out from the flybridge, which houses the helm station and all the halyards and sheets, around the three winches. After leaving the exit channel with the help of engines – the two 57 hp Yanmar (optional configuration) propelled the Bali 4.4 at nearly 7 knots, for 2 200 rpm and 20 knots of apparent headwind – this cruising catamaran allowed to enjoy, under Code 0, a cruising speed of between 7 and 8 knots, and even 9 knots when borne away a bit. To sail closer to the wind, the furling solent was set up: it makes tacking easier when the Code 0 requires to be furled and unfurled to go from one side to the other, but impacts performance.
SPACIOUS IS A MILD ADJECTIVE…
Successor of the 4.5, this Bali 4.4 is clearly more inspired by the 4.6 than by the 4.2 in its space management. Built in Marans (17) when the largest units are built in Canet-en-Roussillon (66), this catamaran uses and optimises the brand DNA with, in particular, a total use of the surface with the rigid forward cockpit, the mobile swim platform aft, the wide side decks and – above all – the amazing connection between the inside and the outside thanks to the tilting door and two side sliding bays opening on three: it only takes a couple of seconds for the entire aft partition to disappear into the ceiling for unhindered circulation. This was also coupled with an increase in water and fuel capacities for a greater range, a desire that is also reflected in the large on-board refrigeration capacity to ensure generous victualling. Developed since 2015, this Bali range keeps evolving and its commercial success, with more than 280 boats launched in the current financial year, demonstrates the relevance of these strong choices.
CHIC AND REFINED FITTINGS
If the cool, damp air was not conducive to outside lounging – it was impossible to fully appreciate the flybridge and the forward deck lounge area – it did allow us to enjoy the comfort and safety of an indoor navigation. The hull we tested boasted the Pack Elegance, which offers more sophisticated and refined fittings: leather handles, special upholstery, club armchairs in the saloon… Even with the aft window lowered, this space offers good dimensions with its comfortable table for six (but eight guests can easily squeeze in) and its opposite armchairs (or a sofa). The L-shaped galley occupies the forward port side, with all the necessary equipment to prepare gourmet meals with a sea view. A door opening onto the forward deck saloon – perfect for air circulation on board when it’s hot – separates it from a true corner navigation station with desk, drawers and a front panel that can get a full electronic equipment.
VERY COMFORTABLE TO LIVE IN
The staircases in the saloon, well secured by solid railings, lead to the cabins. The port hull is devoted to the master suite, which offers a large shower room forward, a desk, wardrobes and storage in the centre as well as a large double island berth bathed in light thanks to the hull and the aft portholes. The starboard hull is divided between two similar guest cabins, each en suite. As an option, the forepeaks can house a crew cabin. If long offshore cruises can be envisaged, this Bali 4.4 mainly stands out for the charms of its life on board.