If you are in the market for a small, entry level cruising catamaran, your choice has dwindled in recent years. Lagoon have stopped production of the iconic 380 which is probably the best selling multihull of all time (although the Lagoon 40 is actually 38.5 feet). Fountaine Pajot start their range with the Lucia 40 (again 38.4 feet).
Excess Catamarans are bucking this trend, however, with the Excess 11: at 11,33 m or 37’2” she is clearly in Lagoon 380 territory. So this launch I totally get from Excess: it’s a segment of the market that is not well served by the major catamaran manufacturers.
Let´s take a look at what you get.
- Lots of living space thanks to those alt helms that open up the aft cockpit and salon into one big platform.
- She’s very comfortable down below too with those shapely hulls that flare out along her centre.
- All the lines come back to the helms. She’s great for short handed sailing or even going solo.
- They’ve kept thing simple, there’s no traveller for example.
- The boom is tucked in close to the coachroof giving her a low centre of effort. She looks very seaworthy for a small boat
- Just like the Lagoon 380, she’s very manoeuvrable in tight spaces. At that length with twin aft engines, she turns on a sixpence.
- The 11 is the first Excess that doesn’t borrow tooling from Lagoon. She’s 100% Excess.
- She looks sportier than the 12 and the 15. I think that is down to the mast position which comes down to the deck. The saloon is raked behind
- Of course, with those aft helms, visibility is reduced towards the opposite bow, although Excess have worked hard on the sight lines through the salon windows. It’s not such a big issue on a 37 footer anyway, you have more space and time in the marina.
- The aft helms are exposed to the weather. Biminis are an option, but I don’t like the look of them personally. I would just helm at the nav station, fully protected, in a blow. You’ll have to get your wet weather gear on coming into a wet marina, or when reefing in bad weather, but that’s good practice anyway.
- The helm seats feel flimsy. It’s a decent idea, but I think they need improving.
- Likewise, the retractable steps from the fore deck up to the coachroof don’t feel great. I understand they wanted to improve visibility under way, but they have ended up with a fiddly solution that doesn’t look like it will wear well.
- The finishing of the interior is not the best quality- it looks like they saved money here and it doesn’t look like it will wear well.
- She’s pretty heavy for a 37 footer (9 tonnes). I would definitely go the larger sail plan (PULSE line). In comparison, a Lagoon 380 is 7.3 tonnes with the same sail area (versus the standard pack).
In summary, all boats are a compromise, especially 37′ ones. You need to decide what’s important to you. For coastal cruising and shorter passages in warmer climes, the Excess 11 ticks a lot of boxes. She will do well in the Med charter market I think, although the aft helms might frighten off some infrequent bareboaters.
Groupe Beneteau, of Lagoon catamarans fame, are ultimately behind Excess catamarans, although their 2 multihull brands are remaining seperate and distinct within the group. The idea is to develop a sportier-looking range , with a more direct sailing experience. They are after monohull and multihull sailors who like to feel the wind in their hair. Their other catamaran brand remains targeted at comfort with yachts like the Lagoon 450F and the 42.
This boat is no Gunboat 55, let´s face it, but then again the price is nowhere near that supercat and you can see where they are trying to head with this range.
Design & Build
The build process is very close to Lagoon, with vacuum-infusion and balsa coring in both the deck and hull above the waterline. New chines give you more interior volume and a different overall look and feel to the boat. We wouldn´t call this a radical departure from the Lagoon range though, apart from the aft helms and the odd option like the sunroof. It´s more of a sportier flavour at this point, although the Excess 11 does not borrow tooling from Lagoon, unlike her larger sisters. With all of the success they have had with Lagoon over the years, I am guessing they are treading cautiously.
The big differences are pretty clear: those twin aft helm stations are the big move. The starboard helm has a Raymarine nav pack and the throttles. The port helm has the wind instruments. There is an option to add engine controls to the port side (much like the Nautitechs). This is definitely an option worth looking at, although it´s an expensive one.
This opens up a big living space between the aft cockpit and the saloon. Excess is not the first boat to do this (the Bali 4.3 and others in the range have even gone one step further), but Excess have pulled it off well. It´s a lot of boat for 11 metres.
Aft Helms Means More Cockpit and Saloon Space
There´s a double seat for the captain and mate on each helm which fold away if you like. I found these a bit flimsy, if I am to be honest, but the theory is sound. And if you are worried about being exposed to the elements, there is an option for a bimini over the helms. I wouldn´t call them pretty, though. I´d not bother with these and just duck under the main coachroof if the weather turned nasty. The great thing about this kind of helm position is that it opens up the cockpit and saloon into one big living space.
A Big 37 Footer
This is a real advantage on a 37´cat. It feels a lot bigger. It also gives you more sailing feel when you are helming – those wheels are directly connected to the rudders, which also means that there is less to go wrong.
Of course the flip side of that visibility is reduced, particular through to the opposite bow.
I own a Nautitech 40 with a similar helm position, and I can see that this would be a problem for some people, but in my opinion the benefits outweigh the negatives. If I need to see more clearly coming into or out of a marina, I just hop up onto the start of the deck, or I walk to the other side. When docking, I try to always reverse in (more control and you can even handle the first line from the helm in calm conditions).
Good Sight Lines
You can see that the Excess 11 designers have worked hard to make sure that you can see that opposite bow through the windows, but there are blind spots of course. You just need to be aware of them.
There is also an option for a sunroof in the coachroof. This is not something that we liked- we wouldn´t go for this option. It makes it more difficult to tidy away the lines into the mainsail bag as the canvas sunroof won´t hold your weight. I´d go for the full coachroof.
There´s no doubt that the running rigging is very tidy on this boat. All the lines come aft making it easy to manage the sheets, main halyard and reefing lines from the cockpit. There is no traveler – instead the mainsheet comes back to two blocks either side of the aft bench on the transom. A neat solution for this sized boat that is similar to a Catana set-up.
In common with most production cats, there are various layout options on the Excess 11: four cabins/two heads or three cabins/two heads. In the owner’s version, the master suite sits to port with a queen sized berth aft, a large head and shower stall forward, and a vanity / office desk and sofa amidships. For this length of boat, there´s oodles of space- they have designed this very well.
Light and Spacious
The cabinetry isn´t the highest quality – this is a value for money production cat after all. But it does look like it might get knocked around a bit which is something to consider if you are thinking about chartering this boat out. But the overall feel down below is light and spacious. They have done a good job on the drawing board down here.
I like the way they have tucked in a nav station in front of the galley. If the weather turns nasty, you can nip inside from the exterior helms.
The Excess 11 is for sale in two packs: Standard and Pulse. The Pulse line is the powered-up version with a metre-taller mast and additional sail area. We´d definitely go for this option because you cannot realistically call the Excess 11 a light boat for its length at 9 tonnes despite the marketing from the French manufacturer. For comparison, the Lagoon 380 clocks in at 7.3 tonnes.
The mast in both options is set aft, so you have a smaller main and larger head sail which makes this catamaran and easier to handle single-handed or short-handed crews.
Both come with a self-tacking jib and square top main. And the Pulse line comes with grey tri-radial laminate Incidence sails. We´d suggest you add the bowsprit as an option so that you can fly the lighter wind sails like the Code 0, (again larger on the Pulse line).
She´s a pretty nippy boat for her size, I´d say in the top quarter compared to other production cats, particularly if you´ve gone for the Pulse Line.
I´m not keen on the retractable steps up to the coachroof from the fore-deck to be honest – they don´t look that sturdy, and I don´t like the sunroof as it restricts access to the boom. But the sunroof is an option and the steps will be improved, I am sure.
The Excess 11 comes with twin 29 HP Yanmar diesels (there is an option to upgrade to 39 HP), and in common with most cats this size, the Excess 11 is extremely manouevrable- you´ll be feeling like a marina pro in no time. Reverse in on the starboard side where possible, and you should be able to do the lines from the helm in calm conditions.
We´d have the Flexofold propellers high up on our options list- you should get 6 knots easily at 2,300 rpm. You access the Yanmars via the transoms, and there is room for a watermaker in the engine room to starboard.
I have to admit that I was struggling to see who Excess were targeting with their first launches (the 12 and the 15), as the boats are not that different to the Lagoons – and they have played safe on the performance front.
But the Excess 11, I totally get. There isn´t much competition in this size now that the Lagoon 380 is no longer in production (Aventura 34? Comet Cat 37 by Marc Lombard?), and those twin aft helms really open up the space. This catamaran has a real big boat feel for its size.
Is this the New Lagoon 380?
Let´s face it, most owners will be coastal cruising or weekend sailing in this boat, and it will really suit warmer climes such as the Mediterranean. The Lagoon 380 was the most successful production cat of all time. Has the batton just been passed to the Excess 11? Time will tell, of course. There are a few niggles on this boat that need to be ironed out, but they are not huge ones.
We think this boat will be end up being a big seller, especially with the resources she has behind her.
How much does an Excess 11 cost? What is the price?
The base price is around €235,000, but when you add on all of the options, you are looking at around €350,000 (ex VAT). This will depend on your options of course!
Isn’t the Excess just a Lagoon with different marketing?
It’s true that the first 2 Excess models (the 12 and 15) borrowed tooling from Lagoon. But the Excess 11 is the first of the line to be pure Excess. And that has enabled the designers to push the performance curve more for her weight.