Excess 11 Owner’s Review
12 Minute Read. This one is definitely worth it! 😉
A huge thank you to Marco and Lizzy for helping us out on this comprehensive Excess 11 Owner’s Review. This is a good ‘un! It’s an interesting read, especially with the Excess 14 launch which takes may design cues from this smaller boat.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and “Bombarda”. Just a quick summary. What are your plans on the boat? How did you get here? Is there a story behind the name?
The entire adventure was fast forwarded because of Covid. It was Marco’s dream to spend a full season in the Med sailing. When he brought this up to Lizzy, Lizzy’s response was that that’s something they could do once they were older 😉
She proposed to go for a year. In order to do so we needed to buy a boat instead of renting one. And to cross an ocean (as the Carribbean and a corresponding ocean crossing was all the sudden part of the plan now as well.)
Although Marco grew up sailing, Lizzy hadn’t sailed a mile 1 year ago but it always was in the back of her head after talking to friends in her early youth that had been on a sailing boat for some years…
During the lockdowns in the Netherlands we were allowed to sail and because Marco’s parents had a boat (Dehler 38), Lizzy spend her first night on a boat in the summer of 2020.
Covid also made us realize that time is the most precious thing in life, so why wait? The 1 week on the Dehler and the this realisation fast tracked our plans for our 1 year ‘seabattical’.
Although Marco didn’t own many boats before, they’re all called the same: “Bombarda” which is the last name of Marco’s Italian mom. We also took her handwriting for the boat-name stickers and the “B” in the gennaker. Bombarda comes from the Italian invention of the ‘little’ canon. We think it fits this boat as one of the smallest cats out there but with a big punch.
Why did you choose the Excess 11? Were you looking at other boats?
In the past, we owned a Dehler36, Dehler38, Dufour 45 Performance and Marco, in the past, rented a Lagoon 40, 42, 46, FP40, 47 and checked out the Nautitech 40.
It was clear that we really liked the idea of a catamaran although it took a bit longer for Lizzy to be convinced as she had the association of catamarans being enormous floating apartments… Also because we continue to run our businesses from the boat.
That means the option of sitting inside with a laptop every now and then with the ability to look out around you, was a huge benefit. Next to that was the constant struggle with the dinghy on our previous monohulls, although that’s something you could overcome with a really good davit system.
The problem was that on the used market, most catamarans were either ex charter boat or very big (>45ft) and with a raised helm station.
During the rentals Marco noticed it’s easy to get disconnected from the rest of the group on a sport top. So in the end it was clear; a Nautitech 40 (46 is way too big for 2 persons, even if friends come over) or something like a used Outremer 45. The latter was a bit out of our budget and in all honesty also not the best boat to familiarise Lizzy with sailing.
That in combination that even a 45 ft performance cat felt a bit too small inside for us. We both love kitesurfing and wingfoiling so one of the criteria was that we could store all our kite gear (which takes up a lot of room 🙂 )
After test sailing the 11 from Excess Catamarans we very quickly made our decision; she really sails well: it’s a catamaran for sailors.
When was she originally launched? 2021, right?
Yes 2021 and we picked her up ourselves in Les Sables D’Olonne
What’s the best thing about her?
The two steering wheels at the back as it allows for a low boom and keeps the helmsman connected with the rest of the crew (aka your partner).
The interior in general is enormous, our bed is 2m by 2m. Where do you get that?
What’s the worst thing?
The soft wood used in the indoor table and that we need to put yoga mats between the hull and the mooring lines when Med mooring if we use the outboard cleats for the mooring lines.
How has Bombarda aged? Still pretty new, I know, but which part of the boat has suffered the most wear and tear if any?
Hard to say as indeed the boat is only 6 months old now and we maintain her very well. However we did sail her through some really rough weather and nothing broke. Compared to other new boats we had, there were very few points to be fixed.
We think it really makes a difference that Excess is part of the Beneteau Group. The issues we had were with a Harken winch, a Schenker Zen watermaker and a Raymarine Axiom plotter, so this doesn’t have to do with the boat I would say. Although we were surprised that these A brand products did fail.
Would you make any changes to the basic design if anything? 3 main things, for example. What’s the headroom like, for example. Do you knock your head anywhere. How are those swing up aft helm seats?
We would add dimmable lights for the inside and outside area. There’s no outdoor lighting ex factory for some reason and the indoor lighting is too bright (we changed both).
The helm seats in the back are actually really comfortable and although we understand the argument of ‘it may feel scary’, the position is really, really good. You can easily trim your sails and dock the boat. However we’re not sure if the padding/foam inside the helm seats last for >3 seasons.
We would also have liked Excess to install a underhanging sink instead of a top mounted; it makes it easier to clean the counter top.
Also a ex factory plotter at the nav station would be nice, we installed a Raymarine Axiom 9″ ourselves. Wouldn’t go without it.
On the port side (in our opinion) a stopper block is missing, so the port code0/gennaker sheet always occupies the winch. As a result you can’t trim the halyard of the code0/gennaker once the sheet is loaded.
What are the essential options for this boat in your opinion? eg sail plan (Pulse Line?) gennaker, code 0, watermaker, solar, engine upgrade, folding props etc. Just to help people who are looking at ordering an Excess 11
For our plans (meaning: 1 year full time live aboard and Atlantic crossings) you can never have enough solar. The factory option doesn’t cut it with 400 watts of solar on the davits. We have in total 2400 watts of solar (on the davits and roof) and 900 Ah of lithium connected to a 5000 watt inverter. We think such a set up (maybe with 500 ah of lithium) is a game changer.
Because of the lithium setup we also cook on induction which is much faster and doesn’t heat up the salon.
Overall we think our entire electric upgrade really makes a difference.
We also upgraded the standard 20kg anchor to 32 delta. Never dragged (although everyone will say that 😉 ) and fits as well as the 20kg. We kept the original 20kg as a back up.
Owners version; our owners hull really sold the boat to us. A bed and shower bigger than at home in a compact catamaran, easy.
Light Wind Sails
Ex factory we would highly recommend the Code0 and the gennaker however, if you spend some serious money on a gennaker, it’s worthwhile taking the time to really properly trim your sails. Although Marco has raced in many boats; it took us quite some time (and still does!) to really get all the power from the gennaker.
The watermaker on the option list needs to be switched on and off from the port engine compartment; you don’t want to be opening engine compartment hatches when under way so we went for a different watermaker.
Folding props are a must if you want to sail properly and they also catch less lines, etc etc. We also went for the hard roof as it allows for easy sail packing and 1400 watts of solar on the roof.
Also the extra watertank of 2x 300L is a must when you have friends coming over and you can’t make water where you are.
We also went for the Pulse Line, not only is the rig taller, it comes with extra blocks and a outhauler. The latter is a must have if you want to trim your sails properly when reaching.
The boat only comes with the 29 hp yanmar engines, there’s no upgrade available which is fine for us. They are quite noisy as you stand on top of them when helming though.
What are the “Nice to Haves”? The washing machine looks cool.
The washing machine started as a bet (that Marco lost) but looking back at it; we should have installed that from day 1 as we have plenty of power (and thus water). Although we live on the boat full-time and have a lot of kite gear; most cabinets in the port bow (guest side) are empty anyway). So we don’t miss the storage space but save a lot of time on laundry as we do it while sailing.
We had sunscreens made in Mallorca (exact copies of the optional enclosure). We really appreciate those.
We also installed a 10.000btu airconditioning unit. It runs from the batteries the entire night and really contributed to some good nights sleep (note; Marco likes to be cold).
Are there any options you wouldn’t bother with, or would be better to source yourself after the purchase? Eg, what are your thoughts on the sun roof option?
For our use the sunroof didn’t make sense as we put solar on top of it and we need shade anyway.
The option to lower the inside table to convert it into a bed. We used it once to test. We lay on it for 10 minutes. I guess this makes it the most expensive bed in the world…
We didn’t go for the princess seats which we’re really happy with. Gives a clean look but also really comes in handy when dealing with the code0 and gennaker.
We almost sourced the dinghy aftermarket but to be honest the Excess branded Highfield dinghy looks pretty nice.
How are the electrics, plumbing etc
We can be short about this: REALLY good. Marco has seen quite some wiring/plumbing on (new) boats and again; it shows that the Excess team has built upon the years of boat building experience with Lagoons, Beneteaus etc.
How is the storage generally? Is there enough room for your all of your kit?
Although we carry a lot of stuff (kite gear, aircon, spares to cross the Atlantic, live aboard stuff) most the cabinets in the guest hull are still empty. When we now look at Youtube reviews where everyone really gets hung up on storage; we now start to question; what is it that everyone is collecting..?
We keep a spare 20 kg anchor, spare pumps, engines kits, 2 folding bikes, 12 fenders etc etc and still could fit lots more. Which we’re not doing 😉
Is she easy to maintain? Servicing engines, standing rigging etc.
The boat is build by a production company, that’s something we like. As the engines are not too big, you can easily work on them in the engine compartment. I do wish the sound insulation of the engine compartment would be better.
Standing rigging etc; all tried and test stuff – call us risk averse but when it comes to that kind of stuff we like not to be the guinea pig.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Easy to reach the boom if there are problems with the reefing lines etc?
This boat is a sailor’s dream to sail and dock. First of all because you can do everything from the helm but also because it’s a really stable platform as you’re close to the water (vs a flybridge). We didn’t have any reefing issues however when we do reef we just lock the boom in roughly its center position (note the Excess 11 has two main sheets) and then walk on the roof (if needed).
Even in the Bay of Biscay this is perfectly fine and can’t imagine any other way.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow, I see you had 40 knots on the way to the Canaries.
We had up to 48 knots while sailing. That’s quite lot but I never doubted the boat couldn’t handle it. In moderate winds (20-35kn) we always use the outhauler (3rd mainsheet) that comes with the Pulse Line to flatten the main and prevent it from hitting the shrouds. We use it a lot and it stablizes the boat in heavy seas (also in light airs with swell).
If there would be a third reef option from the factory, we would have ticked the box though. We hit 17 knots in heavy winds and a constant 11 knots with following seas. That was actually a great run although noisy.
Our advice would be (for any cat); lots of wind is no problems, as long as the waves /wind come from a >120 angle
How is the aft helm position. Is the visibility good/ How about access to the lines and so on. What do you do in bad weather?
Access to lines and visibility is great. However the lack of a plotter on the starboard side makes us use the port side station more. There’s an option to get a plotter on the starboard side as well; we didn’t like the Navpod installation but our solution of using an iPad also doesn’t work great in daylight.
In bad weather we either sail the boat from the helm station (trimming it) and then sit inside or under the main roof in the cockpit area. We’re of course not sailing in the North Sea in December but we also don’t mind a bit of salt spray. We got an Excess because we wanted a proper sailing boat with comfort – not just comfort.
How does she sail in light winds? What is your favourite sail? The gennaker off the windward cleat test looked interesting
In light winds (5-12 kn) you really need the Code 0 or gennaker. The trick is to properly trim your boat; starting from the front (jib/code0), mainsail boom and mainsail twist and continue that process. We really enjoy doing around 4-6 knots in 8 knots of wind. Brings back a bit of the light weather racing memories of Marco in his Laser and J22…
Favourite sail is the grey Dacron mainsail; with the double mainsheet setup and the optional outhauler you can really start playing with sail twist. Although the Code0 and gennaker may look more exotic; it’s really satisfying trimming the most used sail on the boat every time you use it.
How does she sail close hauled? What kind of TWA is optimal? What’s the leeway like at 50 to true wind, for example
Flat water the TWA is around 50 in 6-14 knots of wind. Leeway is around 7 degrees. She for sure does better than some of the other non daggerboard cats we ‘competed’ with (every boat is a competition 😉 ) But in light winds you really need the Code0. Which takes some time to unpack and install.
If you don’t intend to actively use the Code0, a boat with a genoa would be a better choice. For us; every time we unfurl the Code0 and start the process of trimming, we get a smile on our face as it’s feels like someone is starting a silent engine.
How about on a reach, heading down wind?
We find going downwind the hardest; we’re still optimising our downwind VMG by putting the gennaker on the windward side and reefing our main etc. We haven’t completely cracked the code here but we enjoy the process. The upcoming ARC will give us plenty of time to crack the code.
Off topic but the boat comes with Raymarine electronics. On our Dehler we have B&G and we do really miss the wind graphs to steer the boat properly. A NMEA wifi dongle with the iRegatta2 app does the job but we would still prefer B&G.
Typically, what’s your average speed on passage?
7-8 knots although we really like the light wind sailing when the rest is motoring/motorsailing. With the gennaker only in 6-7 knots we can do 5 knots on flat water and TWA [80-140]
What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability?
The 2x Yanmar 29HPs don’t make her a powerboat. We normally cruise at 6 knots on the motor in flat water at 1900 RPM, max 7,5 knots at 2800 rpm. However if we need to ‘bridge a gap’ of no wind during passage we often run 1 engine at 1900 RPM and get 4,8 knots reducing our fuel consumption by half and reducing the risk of fishing nets in the (folding) props.
We used this when passing the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal. Also one person sleeps much better when the engine in their hull is off.
Manoeuvrability; again an easy one; anyone can dock a catamaran and cats with the helmstation in the back are even easier. We didn’t go for the optional dual control; it was around €8000 and would imply the controls the become electric instead of mechanical. We’re perfectly fine with this single control set up.
The folding props are more than enough for docking in high winds.
Is she easy to dock, what’s the visibility like?
This boat is probably the easiest to dock as the person behind helm can work the stern lines as well. Also the helms person has a full unobstructed line of sight on the port side (and also on the starboard side if you would opt for the dual engine controls)
The visibility through the salon is very good as you see both hulls and both sterns.
What is she like at anchor? Is the anchor set up good? What anchor/chain set up do you have?
We replaced the 20 kg Delta with the 32 Delta. The boat comes with 70m of 10mm chain and a octoplaid line. This is a really good set up. the larger anchor fits perfect and we keep the 20kg as a back up with 40m of 10mm chain.
We did have the wireless Quick remote installed. … It’s really a game changer in anchoring; the person lowering the anchor (can be the helms person) can walk around the deck calling distances etc.
We would highly recommend a >25kg anchor and the wireless remote (aftermarket).
What is she like in a downpour when it is raining hard?
We can close the optional enclosure -which we don’t do that often to be honest-. We also went for the Raymarine Smartremote to control the autopilot. You can also control the autopilot via the free Raymarine apps so not sure if we would have gotten the Raymarine remote looking back.
If you don’t have solar panels on the davits; it would be nice if the Highfield dinghy has a better one way valve to self drain itself in a downpour. We often leave the stopper in the dinghy meaning it collect lot’s of water.
Are you happy with the living space? Cabins/saloon/galley/heads.
It’s incredible what they were able to do with a <40ft catamaran from a living point of view. All beds are full double beds and the wet areas are also very spacious. Especially the one in the owners hull. We had boat owners coming over and everyone is amazed by the space inside.
We went for the white interior; really makes it a clean, minimalistic boat. We also didn’t fit the curtains in the saloon. It’s not because of weight saving but we really like the simple, clean look of the interior.
One of the selling points for us was the fact that there are no overhanging lockers in the salon. Some may think that storage space is therefore limited but we noticed there’s plenty of storage space. The clean, clutter free and fit for purpose ambiance of the boat is something we appreciate.
Where’s your favourite spot on the boat?
In quiet weather sitting on the front beam with your feet dangling above the water (hoping for dolphins to show up).
In heavier weather, behind the nav station.
1) Helmstation trimming sails
2) The shower. The feeling of being able to take a shower in a full size shower while at sea before going to bed (or when you wake up) is just so good.
How is the finish and layout of the interior? Does she creak under sail?
The finish matches the philosophy of the boat; this boat is designed with sailing in mind. For example; the curtains in the cabins are super simple click-on type blinds. They do a great job; it’s really dark in the cabin when you put them on but it’s not a fancy (electric) shutter. We prefer this simplicity.
She does creak under sail but with a bit of perseverance you can eliminate the most annoying ones that would keep you awake. Slamming is not something we noticed so far although you do hear the waves hitting the side as with any other boat.
We take very good care of her but I’m not sure how well some parts with the relative soft wood (table, nav station, galley) would look like after a 5 year back to back charter programme.
Is she good for hosting guests?
We also looked at the FP40 (Lucia/Isla); one of the things we noted is that the forward guest cabin was quite small (at least the bed). This is something we really liked about the Excess 11. Both guest forward and aft cabins have proper 2 person beds although no (semi) island beds.
I think the boat (in the owner’s layout) works really well with 2-4 guests. We’re not sure how things would work out with the 4 cabin layout and 8 people for a period >2 weeks. You may want look at a 45 ft cat.
What kind of modifications have you done and why?
– 900 ah lithium, BMS, 3x MPPT controllers, 2x alternators protectors, 5000 watt Victron Quattro inverter/charger(all Victron). Looking at the work they aftermarket team did (Robin Marina, located in the delivery harbour) we’re pretty sure this was way too complex for a DIY project (at least for us)
2400 watts of solar
– 10.000 btu airco (and heating) in owners hull
– Installed a second Raymarine 9″ plotter at navstation
– Upgraded the anchor from 20 to 32 kg delta; worth every penny in sleep (Marco didn’t use to sleep super good while at anchor in other boats)
– Installed the Quick wireless remote control for the windlass
– Upgraded form 6 hp to 20hp Honda outboard on the Highfield CL290 dinghy. If you don’t use the dinghy for wakeboarding and tow foiling (like we do); we would have gone for an electric outboard.
– Had sunscreens made for the outside aft (cockpit) area
– Upgraded the standard fans to the Caframo Sirocco II fans (huge difference!)
– Freezer (by factory, good choice)
– Zen50 watermaker (would not recommend, had several parts breakdown (sensor, control board), fairly noise). Looking back at it we should have installed a 100L/h watermaker from a different brand
– Static radarreflector by Echomax
– Active S/X radar relfector by Echomax (don’t think we would have done this the second time around) to make sure we get ‘seen’ by other boats.
– Outdoor lighting (dimmable and comes with party mode 😉 ) in cockpit area
– Induction cooktop 2 burner (the gas one would still work as a back up) max 2400watts. So nice that you don’t heat up the entire boat and the next day your batteries are full any way.
– Daewoo Mini washing machine (would 100% recommend this if you can squeeze it in somewhere). Saves so much hassle and time spent on laundry. Install was also easy (did it ourselves)
– Extra 220volt socket in the salon below the couch
– Installed a full carbon flag post on the port hull – thank god this was a gift from our dealer 🙂
– Sun shade for above the trampoline. It’s great to sit in the shade and the on the trampoline enjoying a cold beer 🙂
Any plans for further modifications?
After the washing machine – no 🙂
How is the after sales service from Excess or their dealers?
This was good although we did realize that a (new) boat holds so many systems and components that a worldwide dealer network is essential. Before going for the Excess we also had a quick look at some more ‘exotic’ boat builders and in hindsight, we’re really happy we didn’t’ go down that route. A solid international dealer network is much more of a must than we first thought.
Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying an Excess 11?
The Excess 11 is an ideal cat for couples (and families with up to 2 kids) that enjoy the sailing part of the experience while having a comfortable boat.
Given her compact size and therefore price tag, it makes an ideal boat that should be on your short list if you’re looking into the 40-50 ft monohulls or <45 ft catamarans.
Marco & Lizzy’s Youtube Review
Can you give people who are looking at an Excess 11 a rough budget for annual maintenance costs? Just an idea.
As all Excess 11 are still (very young) it’s hard to say but given the components used and the price of all the spares we carry, we budgeted around €4000 for yearly maintenance after the first year excluding storage on the hard, haulout, but including engines service, antifoul, anodes etc.
If you were buying a second hand Excess 11, what would be the main 3 things you would check?
Wear and tear on the gennaker/Code0 as well as the other sails.
Engine service log
Layout (3 cabin version has our preference)
As all the running rigging is ‘Excess’ branded I would replace all lines (sheets, halyards etc) by the original Excess branded lines.
Rest are all standard components and not difficult to repair/have fixed/replaced.
Follow Sailing Bombarda
You can follow Marco and Lizzy on their Excess 11 on their Instagram page @sailingbombarda.