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Best Boats 2016: Bali 4.3

Cruising Multihull 41-50ft

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Bali 4.3

Not so long ago, cruising catamarans were unique simply by their existence, but no more. With such a selection of cats available, we now look for innovative features, efficient hulls, good use of space and easily handled rigs. The Bali 4.3, a production model from the La Rochelle factory of custom builder Catana, has them all.

With a mast set well aft at the 40 percent point, the jib is both sizable and self-tacking, and the mainsail is easy to handle. A big Code 0 sail can fly from the short bowsprit. The hull chines allow for plenty of interior space while at the same time keeping the underwater profile of the boat slim and efficient.

Space overall is remarkable. With a flybridge lounge, a main deck lounge and a solid foredeck lounge, it’s pretty clear that the function of this boat is the opposite of work. The interior living space rivals some modern homes, even boasting a full-size kitchen. The builder calls this its “Loft” concept, presumably with a loft apartment in mind.

When the weather turns sour, a huge garage-type powered door rolls down to enclose the saloon, and a large window forward rises on air lifts to close off the bow, so the area can go from an open porch to a comfy pilothouse in less than a minute. The two sleeping cabins in the hulls are also both exceptionally large.

Naturally, all these powered things require a sizable generator, and the Bali 4.3 at the Annapolis sailboat show came with a nice big one in its starboard engine room. Mechanical access is excellent.

Unlike the Catana line, the Bali has fixed keels instead of daggerboards and a hull of conventional hand-laid glass, without the extensive carbon fiber of the company’s more expensive cats. Nonetheless, for a boat aboard which the focus has clearly been put on comfort, the Bali 4.3 showed a surprisingly good turn of speed. We think it will find an enthusiastic reception in America. bali-catamarans.com

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