BOAT REVIEW Excess 11

December 2022 Sailboat Reviews
Words by Kevin Green. Photography by Kevin Green and Excess.
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Excess 11
DESIGNER VLP/Nauta?Patrick le Quement
BUILDER Excess Catamarans
PRICE AS TESTED AUD$730,000 base
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 11.33M
BEAM 6.59M
DRAFT 1.15M
DISPLACEMENT 9000kg
ENGINE 2 x 29hp Yanmar Saildrives
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lively performance with Pulse Line sail package performance
OBSERVATIONS
  • Open layout and big volume living areas
  • Outboard helms leave plenty of cockpit space

One of the smallest production cruising catamarans recently arrived Downunder – she’s an ideal way into this exhilarating form of boating, reports our Australian correspondent.


The Excess 11 was launched in January 2020 as part of a range that now has models from 37- to 50-foot (model numbers 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15), in a roll-out that only the vast sheds of the Beneteau Group’s Bordeaux yard, using its skilled workforce in high volume catamaran manufacturing, could possibly deliver. The Excess 11 is available in New Zealand through local agent 36 Degrees.
Unlike earlier models that borrowed hull components from its sister range Lagoon, the Excess 11 uses original tooling and is a more weight conscious range, but still benefits from Lagoon/Beneteau’s 35 years of catamaran expertise. This is combined with the credentials of leading design house VPLP and interior experts Nauta Design, with added flair from car design guru Patrick le Quément.
Graham Raspass, head honcho at Sydney dealership Flagstaff, was particularly excited about the arrival of the baby of the range, first shown locally at the 2022 Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. “The Excess 11 has been a global success for Excess, with over 60 sold since its launch just two years ago.”
Flagstaff has secured two production slots for 2023. One is ex-factory, which for buyers in this part of the world can mean a fantastic season in the Mediterranean before shipping the boat downunder or joining the ARC rally and sailing home.
Having been really impressed by the Excess 12 last year (Boating NZ, May 2022), I was even more pleased by the Excess 11 dealer Micah Lane and I sailed after the Sanctuary Cove show. Mainly because, at only 37.5-foot, it’s particularly nimble, and those outboard helms make steering fun.

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Cool concept
The concept of creating a more open and lively feeling catamaran, without the risk of having an overpowered monster on your hands, is laudable. Given that cruising catamarans are built more for comfort than speed,
a modest evolution of the proven Lagoon brand clearly makes sense to the company, and probably some potential buyers too. Constructed essentially in the same way as Lagoon to minimise costs, yet with a more open deck layout, the appeal is clear. Competitors such as Nautitech have been doing this style of boat for some time, and in lighter hulls, while speedsters such as Outremer have perfected performance versions. What’s different with Excess is the tweaking of Lagoon’s old philosophy of “building from the inside out” into a more rounded concept.
Berthed at Sanctuary Cove, the grey painted Excess 11 clearly showed this departure, with its shapely hulls and alfresco deck-layout. However, the same blunt cabin top as its sister brand clearly identifies it as a Lagoon cousin, and of course, gives all the lovely interior space to the saloon.
This 37-footer is the smallest mass-produced cat on the market, so an ideal entry-level boat, at an affordable price. Even so it can be specified with four cabins, or as a three-cabin owner version, while an optional sporty sail plan adds to the thrill. More importantly, the sports rig gets the hefty hulls moving in lighter airs.
Product manager Thibaut de Montavalon, an experienced Lagoon 380 sailor, summed it up well when we talked about the marque: “What I really like about the Excess concept is the sensation you get from the helm, which is outboard; and of course the optional movable bimini so you can see the sails as you steer.”

Cruising Catamaran Excess 11

The deck
Maximising topside space is the primary design feature of the entire Excess range, demonstrated by the outboard helms and flat decks. The twin helms give clear views forward and untinted windows allow vision across the boat as well. Untinted windows also improve night vision.
Helm seating is a pair of rather basic canvas chairs, which flip; and there’s a bimini option for each helm. Response from the two spade rudders felt good when I turned the Carbonautica composite wheel, as the proximity to the rudders requires only short Dyneema linkages. Raymarine instrumentation is nicely angled for the steerer while the Yanmar engine controls just below the starboard helm are also easy to read without stooping. Handily, there’s an option for a second set at the port helm.
There’s an optional sunroof that concertinas closed via a hand-crank, but our Australian review boat had the standard fibreglass top, which is fine by me – the downside of a soft top is a lack of solid walking space to the boom end.
Like its Lagoon cousins, the Excess 11 is a functional boat. By that I mean most gear is well positioned throughout the hull. For example, the running rigging all comes back to the helms and a bank of jammers with a Harken winch on each side. So, short-handed sailing is straight-forward, and mainsheet control is good via a simple twin block setup on the transom. Behind, is a pair of sturdy davits to hoist the dinghy well clear of the briny.

Cruising Catamaran Excess 11

Moulded steps on each hull provide good access to the water for swimming and boarding the rubber ducky. Inside the cockpit there’s ample open space for entertainment and a corner dinette table (removable for party time) with surrounding benches and transom bench/storage. Underfoot is more locker space and the liferaft is slung (rather precariously) outside the transom.
Walking forward is unimpeded by the single outboard shroud and low-profile deck hatches and there’s a handrail either side of the saloon. At the bow, the anchor is mounted on the crossbeam, making it more accessible. The Excess 11 layout keeps it clear of the hull when the boat swings; the downside is weight higher up. The vertical windlass and chain sit on the longitudinal centre beam, so guests should watch their toes upon deployment. A rather flimsy second roller was also fitted on the review boat.
Beside the bow lockers is a retractable step to access coach roof for sail handling. Our review boat had the optional bowsprit fitted for a Code 0, a wise choice for those preferring the sound of rushing waves to the chug of diesels in low wind scenarios.

Simple sail plan
A simple sail plan is ideal for catamaran newbies, so the standard rig is a self-tacking jib in a large fore triangle, which is balanced with the slab-reefed mainsail. Its boom is near the coach roof because of the deck-stepped mast (rather than stepped on the cabin), which gives a low centre of effort and is easily handled. The alloy mast is also further aft than earlier Lagoons, offering a more balanced sail plan with plenty of space to deploy the Code 0 for running.
The review boat came with the upgraded rig which is ideal for tropical Australia but could be a wee bit powerful for newbie cat sailors. This upgrade – the Pulse Line performance package – has a one-metre taller mast and more sail area, with grey tri-radial laminate Incidence sails, including a square-topped mainsail. All the reefing lines run aft, allowing furling from the helm.

Cruising Catamaran Excess 11

Spacious saloon
Compared to the similar-sized (and older) Lagoon 380, the Excess 11 really has vastly more space in the saloon, even with the large galley included on the starboard side. “Actually, parts of the 11 have more space than on the Excess 12,” said my host for the day Micah Lane. The well-equipped galley has twin sinks, a two-burner hob/oven and sizeable fridge, plus oodles of cabinet space. Which all together make the Excess 11 much more than a mere weekender.
Those vertical bulkheads are where the volume comes from, of course, so you may dodge around a bit at anchor due to the high windage, but inside is an airy atmosphere no matter the weather; especially when the two large front windows are opened. There’s even a corner navigation station adjoining the main couch that surrounds the dinette table.
Some yachting journalists have criticised the yacht’s finish quality, and I agree it’s not class-leading, but it should be remembered this is a mass-produced yacht built to a sharp price – CNC machining with medium quality fixings is all part of the package.

Three or four cabins
The review boat came with the three-cabin owner’s layout. The owner’s suite uses the entire port hull, with two double cabins to starboard. The four-cabin version has a bathroom in each hull, located between the cabins.
Stepping down into the hulls is an airy and light-filled experience, thanks to opening skylights and large, elongated portlights. This owner’s version had a spacious layout with an athwartships bed filling the stern hull, a vanity desk nearby, and a really large bathroom in the bow. Acres of white gelcoat in the bathroom may be glaringly bright, but it is easily wiped down. Overall, the owner’s space is incredible for a 37-foot boat, so a major draw for potential buyers; especially those choosing the live-aboard life.
Over in the port hull, the two double cabins have similar volume, including useful wardrobe space, and the large bathroom between them enhances privacy.

Voluminous hull
While the hull design is similar to a Lagoon’s, the 11 is the first Excess to be manufactured separately. Key features are the twin mini keels, rudders behind saildrives and flared hulls above the waterline to maximise volume in the living spaces.
Also similar to sister brand is the use of balsa cores in the GRP hull above the waterline. Construction is via vacuum infusion for the hull and deck with injection moulding used on the roof to minimise weight. The design minimises the structure forward, so large trampolines are used. Below, the nacelle is shaped to deflect waves, which is good given the modest bridge-deck clearance, especially aft.
Rudder shafts are close to the wheels – connected with Dyneema line, a simple solution that offers more feel and less complication. Blunt bows maximise the waterline and the tall hulls give generous inside volume. There’s a glass escape hatch in each in case of capsize.
Volume was also evident when I peered into one of the two engine compartments to examine the 29hp Yanmar saildrive. A generator is not offered but could be fitted there. The starter battery is sensibly elevated, but the open-grain plywood ends will soak up any water incursion. AGM house batteries are under the owner’s bed (inside the nacelle would be optimal…) and Lithium versions are available.

Cruising the Gold Coast
Catamarans are prolific around the Gold Coast – for very good reasons. It’s a cruising ground of shallow waters and sheltered sailing, which suit them. So, it was an ideal place to take the Excess 11 for spin, even when a gale is blowing. But first, along with a dozen other boat show escapees, Micah and I had to steer along the winding Coomera River after casting off.
Under power, the Excess 11 effortlessly sped along at six knots, propelled by its folding propellers and 29hp Yanmar saildrives. And those outboard helms meant I could easily avoid all the river traffic, although there is a slight blind spot diagonally opposite the steerer.
Approaching the river mouth, strong southerly gusts bent the river gumtrees, so we agreed to leave the performance mainsail double reefed before we hoisted. The manual winch beside the starboard helm hoisted the big-headed mainsail without dramas, guided by the lazy jacks. Spinning the lightweight composite steering wheel, I then released the furling line and the self-tacking headsail rolled out quickly once I gave its sheet a tug, and we sped off in the 20-knot southerly.
I chose to put the Excess 11 through its toughest test right away – tacking down a narrow channel against the chop. For most mini-keeled, heavy cruising catamarans, this is asking too much. But not the nimble Excess 11, which even with two reefs in the mainsail made headway as I tacked several times.
Each tack involved simply turning the wheel so that the bows spun about 100 degrees while I sedately walked to the windward side, the self-tacking headsail zipping across, followed by the mainsail flipping around automatically.
Hard upwind, the Raymarine showed 6.5 knots at 50 degrees true wind, which corresponded with the polar chart. The Pulse package gives roughly 10% more sail area and about a 10% gain in speed, which also aids light air performance. The lively feel of the boat and responsive helm is exactly what this new brand is all about – so much so, it may well persuade some monohull sailors to defect.
Downwind, we had to contend with the basic sail plan, as it was too windy to hoist a spinnaker, but the ride was smooth, fast(9 knots) and drama-free.
Overall, the Excess 11 is a capable coastal cruiser from a company with a proven pedigree, offered at tantalising price point. It’s perfect for anyone wishing to enjoy the thrill of their first multihull.

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