Balance catamarans are built in South Africa, at Cape Saint Francis. On paper , and especially this new 526 presented at Miami last February, they have all the characteristics of machines exclusively dedicated to performance…and yet they’re not! Although the Balance 526 is well capable of exceeding 20 knots with disconcerting ease – you can count on average speeds of 10 knots – it is also an ‘all comforts’ catamaran, and a very safe one at that. The builder uses a foam/glass/epoxy sandwich, with carbon reinforcements. The bulkheads are manufactured in composites. This construction allows the builder to present a 16-metre boat which weighs just a little more than 9 tonnes. According to the builder, speed in a multihull is not just sailing pleasure, it’s also a guarantee of safety, to escape from a low pressure system at sea, or reach a shelter in case of need, as quickly as possible. The steering position is positioned at mid-height: a perfect compromise between a good view of the water and sails, and minimum windage. The 526 of course adopts deep daggerboards, to remain fast when sailing to windward, and be able to retract them completely in the case of very heavy weather and following seas, to put an end to the ‘tripping-up’ effect. The 526 has been optimized for ocean cruising as a family; it therefore takes into account the requirement for a large load-carrying capacity, and offers three very comfortable cabins.