Bali 4.8 leads ‘second generation’
The new 4.8 is Bali’s second-biggest model, offering all the brand’s signature features and up to six cabins with en-suite bathrooms, a rarity on a sub-50ft sailing cat. Meanwhile, dealer Asiamarine has ordered a specially customised unit for Asia.
Words: Francois Tregouet. Photos: Bali Catamarans
The Bali 4.8 is nearly 49ft long overall with a beam of almost 26ft
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.
The yacht has a full-beam aft platform that can carry a RIB
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 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.
Bird’s-eye view shows the clean side decks and large solid foredeck
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 sugarscoop 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. A high helm station means 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.
The flybridge has a bench-seat helm, L-shaped sofa, table and large aft sunpad
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.
The signature solid foredeck features a sunken lounge and full-width sunbathing area
As well as the flybridge, the Bali 4.8 has a lot more you’d find on the 5.4 including the foredeck door, slightly offset to starboard. The 160sqft foredeck offers two L-shaped benches surrounding a table and a full-width sundeck. This is the advantage of this entirely rigid section, which Bali replaced the traditional trampoline with.
Meanwhile, Bali’s signature feature is its remarkable saloon door, which on the 4.8 is 10ft wide. Complemented by sliding windows on the sides, the lifting door can transform the saloon into a cockpit, and vice-versa, in no time at all.
The tilt-and-lift ‘Bali door’ is the brand’s most iconic feature
And we’ve got to admit that when the breeze freshens and the sun goes down, closing the door presents an attractive, cosy interior. Suddenly, everything outside is muffled and protected from the wind, yet the space remains impressive.
But in most cases when the weather’s good, the door is open and shows off Bali’s winning indoor outdoor layout.
The 4.8 offers an enormous indoor-outdoor social area
The space offers a saloon, galley and chart table area of a good 290sqft, entirely on the same level, with light entering through windows from almost 360 degrees. The table and seats are simultaneously those of the cockpit and of the saloon, so dimensions are generous.
The huge double-door refrigerator/freezer sits between the saloon and the galley, easily accessible from either. The galley itself has plenty of space, with 8ft 6in of Corian-covered worktop. There’s storage space all around including up high where a microwave can be integrated, lower down where there’s a clever compartment dedicated to waste sorting, on port side and forward to the chart table.
Bali has fitted a huge, 615-litre fridge/freezer on the 4.8 port side
The chart table benefits from a nice surface area and is usefully forward-facing, offering a panoramic view. It is both pleasant when the sea is idyllic and reassuring as you keep a constant watch on the coast, the buoys and other boats.
The Bali 4.8’s accommodation offers great flexibility to offer no less than five versions, each offering all its cabins with en-suite bathrooms.
For starters, the attractive three-cabin version has a huge owner’s suite occupying the port hull and featuring a window-facing double bed aft, desk, masses of storage and large en-suite bathroom forward. Depending on the layout, the owner’s suite and aft cabins have the boat’s only opening deck hatches and offer direct access to the transom, ideal for a private morning swim.
The master suite in the three-cabin version
The master suite also occupies the port hull in the owner’s version of the four-cabin layout, which has three guest cabins to starboard, while the symmetrical four-cabin layout has two on each side. The owner’s suite and forward cabin(s) benefit from having bathrooms in the forepeaks with separate showers, the only ones on the boat, with the others having ‘open’ showers.
The five-cabin version includes a portside midships cabin with bunks so is suitable for children, teenagers and adults who aren’t a couple. The room can provide plenty of storage when not in use.
The 4.8 really comes into her own in offering – for the first time on a multihull under 15m (50ft) – six double cabins with en-suite bathrooms, with the opening deck hatches providing the only entrances to the aft cabins.
The en-suite bathroom in the master suite
Knowing that via professional charter companies or through the charter-management of privately owned boats, many catamarans built are destined for charter, there’s no need to get out your calculator to work out what investors will see in the six-cabin version, compared to what was until now the ‘norm’ in the 50ft bracket.
Between the exceptional spaces outside, under cover and in the hulls, and the very pleasant performance considering the volumes offered, the Bali 4.8 is yet another remarkable offering from this exciting new player in the world of cruising cats.
SPECIAL BALI 4.8 FOR ASIA
A customised 4.8 will arrive in Asia later this year
Regional dealer Asiamarine has ordered a customised Bali 4.8 that’s scheduled to tour key yachting hubs in Asia from this summer before arriving in Hong Kong by the fourth quarter. The special three-cabin unit will be fitted with the highest options, furnished with the latest Minotti and Poltrona Frau furniture, and include a brand-new hardtop flybridge design featuring on the model for the first time.
“The Bali 4.8 is simply the highest-volume boat in its category that can be acquired in Hong Kong and operate with an easy-to-obtain Grade 2 licence,” said Eric Noyel, founder and CEO of Asiamarine. “The version that will eventually arrive in Hong Kong will be one of the most luxuriously accessorised catamarans here.”
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Bali is continuing to disrupt the cruising catamaran industry as features like the ‘Bali door’ and solid foredeck make the French brand increasingly popular in Asia and around the world.