A brand new design
We had discovered the Excess 12 and 15 in Cannes in September 2019. While the first two models in the Bénéteau Group's new range shared the same nacelle and planking as those on Lagoon catamarans, the new Excess 11 is a product of an all-round design. You only have to look at the rounded edges of the floats to be convinced or the accentuated redan on this model. The result is a modern and contemporary look.
A mast in front of the roof
"Making a small boat is complicated. The weight constraints are not the same." explains Alexandre Dauberville, CNB marketing director.
Unlike the larger models (Excess 12 and 15) and the evolution of the Lagoon range, the mast of the Excess 11 is located in front of the deckhouse and not on top of it. A look back at the shipyard, which advocates the advantage of the backward mast for the performances??
Moving the mast backwards offers a gain in performance and makes it easier to install a self-tacking jib with a good surface area. But on a catamaran, it requires a very reinforced structure under the nacelle to support the compression forces (via the epontille). While a mast installed in front of the deckhouse is placed on the front beam, without the need for additional reinforcements or a bulky deck in the saloon.
On a small catamaran like the Excess 11, this consolidation to move the mast backwards is too much of a burden on the final weight estimate. Too heavy, the catamaran will find it difficult to take off with little wind (as was the case with the first Lagoon 39).
To avoid this problem on the Excess 11, the shipyard placed the mast in front of the deckhouse, while moving the gondola as far back as possible. As a result, the Excess 11 has helm stations that are almost skirted and a slightly cramped cockpit/nacelle volume. That is a bias, but let us not forget that we are on a 37-foot boat.
And in spite of this maximum backward recoil, the surface of the jib (self-tacking) remains quite small (22 m2). It's hard to imagine this boat not being equipped with a gennaker (optional with Excess), as as soon as you get away from the wind, the jib will no longer be of any use.
A layout worthy of the greatest
Despite her height of 37 feet (11 m), the Excess 11 has nothing to envy the biggest catamarans. The builder has succeeded in integrating all the elements of comfort expected when cruising. Even though the cockpit is a bit narrow, there are two separate areas.
At the stern, two steering wheels are installed in front of the skirts (port and starboard) and provide forward visibility via the gangways. Two removable double benches allow you to sit at the helm station and at the same time securely close the cockpit when sailing (lines can also be installed). At anchor or at dockside, they can be lifted up to access the skirts. For manoeuvring, the winches are installed close to the helm stations. The installation of a mast on the bow also allows the ends to run on deck, brought back to the stern via the gangways. A central bench seat completes this navigation area.
At the front of the cockpit is the outside dining area and the relaxation area with a right-hand bench seat to port and an L-shaped bench seat to starboard with table. A large roof cap covers the cockpit and thanks to the integrated sliding bimini, you can decide to opt for full protection or, on the contrary, to open the canvas to enjoy the sun.
A front beach for idleness
To access the front platform - where a large trampoline replaces the rigid structure, always with a view to saving weight - the wide walkways protected by a rope are used. However, you will first have to climb four steps to get out of the cockpit. The Excess 11 has very high sides to make the floats more spacious. On the bow, you can relax while sailing or at anchor by taking advantage of the 3 deckchairs with adjustable backrest inclination.
A cosy interior
Inside the gondola, which is rather bright thanks to the numerous windows, there is a dining area with an L-shaped bench seat and a large table on the port side, as well as a storage unit. The small chart table is installed on the starboard bow facing the saloon bench seat, which will also serve as a chart table seat. We make the most of the space.
The galley to starboard is L-shaped and is also well equipped: stove, oven, double sink, microwave, refrigerator..
Floats for the night
As an entry-level model in the Excess range, this 11-metre model is not intended for charter, but rather for private use. Thus, it is available in two layouts: three or four cabins. In both cases, there are only two washrooms on board, one for every two cabins. A configuration which is not favourable for charter (but unavoidable for this size of catamaran).
In the version we were able to visit (3 cabin version), the starboard hull was reserved for the owner's space. At the stern, there is a large double bed installed across the entire width of the hull, as well as a dressing table/office area and numerous storage and cupboards. This hull can be easily closed thanks to the sliding door transformed into a bookcase.
On the bow, the bathroom is very spacious, with a beautiful shower (separate from the WC) and a large vanity unit.
The port hull offers two rather nice sized cabins and a bathroom with separate shower.
Performing in light weather
The objective sought by the French builder is to offer a high-performance catamaran in light winds. "The idea is to turn off your engine at 5 knots of wind and be able to sail at the same speed or even faster than the speed of the wind." details Alexandre Dauberville.
With this Excess range, Bénéteau aims to fill the gap left between the comfortable cruising catamarans of the Lagoon or Fountaine Pajot brands and high-performance cruising catamarans such as Gunboat or Outremer.
The Excess 11 is sold at a price of 235?000 euros excluding VAT and a maximum of 300?000 euros for a boat ready to sail.