Balance Catamarans
Balance Catamarans

Jim began sailing at the age of eleven on Santana 22’s on the San Francisco Bay. He later owned and raced his Cal 34 and C & C 121. And of course, like all good California boys, he also had a Hobie Cat 18 to play with when time permitted. Then Jim met Mary Anne and the rest is history!

For over twenty years Jim and Mary Anne have used sailing as a focal point for family fun and adventure. They have cruised and raced in San Francisco Bay for many years and competed in a range of offshore races, including the Double-Handed Farralones, the Newport to Ensenada Race, and the Baha Haha from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Jim’s children also love to sail so for them sailing, racing and cruising is really all just about being together, having adventures on the water. 

Now that the children are grown and heading off to college – you knew they would both end up at the University of Hawaii! – Jim and Mary have a plan. They will sail their new 526 to the Caribbean and use her there for a few years and then head back to the Pacific. They may bring her to San Francisco for a bit, but not certain at this time. If they do come back to the Bay, based on a few cold surveys Phil Berman has attended in Oakland, the Versa Helm is going to be a real blessing when the fog rolls in. We can picture Jim and Mary Anne already piloting their 526 in comfort with a warm cup of coffee in hand!  And of course Jim’s gonna get a kick out of passing his old racing foes at 15 knots with a big grin on his face.

Both doctors, Jim and Mary Anne intend to cruise the world on their Balance 526 and bring health education to under-served communities, especially in the South Pacific. They want to sail, to have fun, but also spend a part of their retirement with an active service component. 

Because Jim and family did a good bit of racing, and truly enjoy sailing as a sport, they found the many charter cats they rented over the years to have fine living conditions but found the sailing to be, as Jim put it, “Uninteresting.” As he went on to share with us:

“Most modern cats offer great accommodations but very low performance and sail quite poorly to windward. We knew that when it came time for us to get a catamaran for our retirement that it had to be a lot faster for us and more fun to sail, not only because we wanted to get to destinations faster, but because faster sailing is safer sailing and it opens up opportunities to go to more places…

“Esthetics were also a big factor for us in deciding to order our new Balance 526. We find her crisp contemporary lines and modern interior finishes to be satisfying to our eyes. Also, as experienced sailors, we were drawn to the fact that the 526 is a truly hand-made labor of love crafted by passionate builders who are happy to let us make a wide range of choices on finishes and equipment that larger production builders will not. Anyone who takes the time to visit the yard in South Africa to meet with the team recognizes very quickly that the quality of the lamination and fabrication is second-to-none. Balance Catamarans was founded and is operated by a team of men and women with deep integrity who truly love what they do.”