Since the first Bali models were launched in 2014, it’s clear that the range, created from scratch by Olivier Poncin, has silenced the doomsayers. Not only has the Catana Group become one of the world’s top catamaran builders but it’s also pursuing its ambition by producing models to match sizes offered by the competition.
The 4.8, the brand’s seventh opus, has an overall length of 48ft 9in and fills the gap between the 5.4 and the 4.6, with all the expected Bali features – and some new ones, too.
With a rigid foredeck, fully open interior, full-width tilt-and-turn door that opens or encloses the saloon in seconds, plus huge 220V refrigerators “just like at home”, Bali catamarans have made the most conservative yachtsmen who haven’t yet assimilated the multihull revolution shout out loud.
Technically, Bali boats benefit from the know-how of parent company Catana Group, notably an integral construction in closed-cell PVC foam sandwich, and above all bulkheads that are not simply glued but laminated, an assurance of rigidity and longevity.
Apart from size, the new 4.8 is distinguished from her predecessors by an evolution in the exterior style, as we observed first-hand ahead of a sea-trial from the builder’s hometown of Canet-en-Roussillon in the south of France.
The exterior is more fluid, in line with the Bali Catspace, with both models unveiled in 2020 and joined later in the year by the 4.6 as part of the brand’s ‘second generation’ of models.
BIG SISTER FEATURES
Moored alongside the pontoon, getting aboard is easy via the sugar scoop that extends beyond the imposing topsides. The 4.8 has a lot you’d find on the flagship 5.4 including an impressive flybridge, home to the main helm station on starboard side. The flybridge is accessible from both side-decks and features include a table with sofas and a huge sunbathing area, an impressive feat on a hull measuring 46ft 10in.
The advantage of a high helm station is that all four corners of the catamaran are within sight, but the downside is that you can feel a bit isolated during port manoeuvres. You’ll have to rely on a good pair of crew members to pass the lines ashore.
On the other hand, all sail trimming manoeuvres are within reach, even if the winches are a little low for my liking. Conversely, the boom is high, as on all flybridge cats.
At eight knots with the engine at 2,400rpm, the Bali 4.8 quickly cleared the coast to find a light southerly breeze of around 12 knots. As the boat struggled to exceed 6.5 knots under the self-tacking jib (47sqm), unfurling the Code 0 (90sqm) doubled the surface area of the fore-triangle and immediately brought the boat to life.
Without claiming that she was born for performance, her behaviour was more than I expected. Cruising at 8.5 knots, at 95 degrees off a wind blowing at a mere 13 knots, is no disgrace for a purely cruising or even charter catamaran.
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