Phil Berman Launches New SA Joint Venture

BALANCE CATAMARANS CAPE TOWN SET TO BOLSTER BRAND SA

It’s a match made in boatbuilding heaven.  Mark Delany in the yard with an angle grinder, Anton du Toit in the studio with his design software, and Phil Berman on the telephone selling boats to the global elite.

If they were a rock band they would be fighting off groupies in Vegas.

As it is they are already pretty famous, each in their own right, but their combined talents in a new stand-alone entity, Balance Catamarans Cape Town, seems likely to garner further accolades in the boatbuilding universe. The joint venture involves a new range of Balance custom and semi-production catamarans built at the Two Oceans Cape Town facility. Berman already has a joint venture with Du Toit and Nexus Yachts in St Francis Bay; now he wants to go slightly bigger with Delany, although talks are afoot to also design a 48 foot Balance to be produced in Cape Town.

“Balance Catamarans is really just a chance for us to merge all of our talents together,” Berman told SABBEX during his most recent visit to Cape Town late last year. “I’ve got a keen sense of understanding of the current market and the sorts of features and designs we need to create competitive products; Anton has the design and engineering team to work with closely with me on it; and Mark and his team have the building skills to craft these very high end, performance oriented epoxy catamarans. We all know each other pretty well and work together very easily, and there is a lot of mutual respect. We also share the customer focused ethic that has driven Balance Catamarans to such great success so quickly,” Berman said.

Berman said the latest venture was motivated by market appetite for large catamarans that sailed at a far higher clip than the production yards produce, and for consumers looking for that balance between luxury and performance. With Nexus already backed up with orders for the Balance 526 – and its bigger sister the Balance 620 – Berman is looking to leverage Cape Town’s building skills to bring a slightly larger boat to market.  He explained: ““Here (in Cape Town) you have a lot of really skilled people who have been doing this for a long time.  As I am here regularly to work with the team, it enables me to focus with Anton and Mark on all of the fine details of design and build which collectively amount to a superior product. The devil really is in the details in catamaran design and fabrication.”

Balance Catamarans Cape Town would look to build on South Africa’s growing reputation for robust hulls and sailors unafraid of testy weather, Berman said. “One of the things about a South African builder and designer is that you are down here at the bottom of Africa with two big Oceans (actually three if you include the Southern Ocean) and a massive current. If you venture offshore you better know what you are doing — you need to build boats that are really robust.”

It’s not the first time Berman has teamed up with Delany and Du Toit. A few years back they collaborated to produce a 150 passenger double-decker day charter catamaran on short notice. The success of the project no doubt inspired Berman to think of what might lie ahead: “Anton got that design together really quickly and Mark was able to build her in ten months. We ended up with very happy customers.”

Delany told SABBEX he too was confident about the new boatbuilding gig: “It is going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to working with Phil in opening up a whole new market and building some really neat bespoke boats for the international market.”

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