Balance 526 vs 580 for a family short-handed world cruiser


New member
Hi all,
I've enjoyed reading @Mambo Kings "choosing Uhuru" journey... we find ourselves in a similar situation at the moment and are torn between a more "comfy" Balance 526 and a more luxurious Balance 580 as our top choice.
Both bots offer amazing performance and build quality.
Plenty of 526 on the water so you can see what they are about... no 580 yet - first hulls are being built.
In terms of design, interior, space, cabins, saloon etc. we find 580 far closer to our "dream setup"; the renders are just absolutely stunning and organisation of the boat seems a significant step up from 526.
However, it is 500k+ pricier than 526 and I do wonder if, for a limited experience family crew (mainly husband and wife with teenage kids) the 580 might just be a very demanding boat to handle in terms of size (vs a much more "easy" to handle 526).
As we seem to be stuck in a pros-and-cons circle I wanted to reach out to get some more thoughts on the matter.
Any feedback from the more experiences cat sailors here would be very much appreciated!


What is your previous sailing experience?

Because if you are already stepping up to a 526 and need to 'learn' that, then I don't think the 580 will be much of a difference in terms of learning to handle a bigger boat. In fact once you get past being a little daunted by the bigger boat then often it can be found to be easier to handle - heavier, more stable, etc.

And I'm assuming that you will have power winches, etc, on either boat, regardless?

Many other other pros and cons of more length vs less length were well covered in Mambo's thread.

If budget is less of an issue then I will come down on the side of the bigger boat if you are talking about long distance full time live aboard cruising.

This is mainly because of the added payload carrying ability for a family without losing performance, and the better motion at sea of the longer waterline length. And of course a little extra speed - or in a cruising sense, the same speed but with more space, payload, and comfort is nice too.

Those are generic points, without specifically comparing the 526 to the 580.

One point to consider if you are of limited experience might be your insurance situation. But then experience may well be the deciding factor when assessing risk, rather than 526 vs 580.

Hope that helps.

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Further to my point re payload carrying ability, taking a quick look on the Balance site it's 3000kg on the 526, vs 5000kg on the 580. Not quite double, but A LOT more.

That might be less important for a retired couple cruising two handed that don't need much.

But for a family with teenage kids - will you also be carrying a lot more stuff? (I don't know, I expect yes, but it's an honest question, for your family, for where you are going to cruise, full live aboard vs short trips, etc, etc).

And how important is performance to you? I note you are looking at a Balance, not a Lagoon...


New member
My current boat is a 526 (Phoenix) and I absolutely love it to pieces. Very easy to sail it for a couple, and I single hand it pretty regularly on day sails. With your crew setup you should be solid.

As for the 580, well... they haven't splashed one yet and I don't really have experience with anything bigger than the 526.

Either way you're going to need to hire a captain for your first 3-6 months to get you up to speed. Your insurance will definitely require it for the crossing from South Africa to wherever you want to go (Caribbean?) They might be 'simple' boats, but there are still lots of complex systems and a lot of power that can go badly very quickly if you don't know what you're doing.

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