The Excess 11 is the smallest in the Excess fleet, and it is new from the ground up. (The Excess 12 and 15 use existing molds from other models.) With all new tooling, the 38-footer does everything right, providing a great sailing experience along with excellent accommodations for a cruising couple or family. And it is no slow boat. In the 2021 ARC across the Atlantic from Las Palmas to St Lucia in the Caribbean, an Excess 11, while the smallest catamaran in the fleet, took first place in the Multihull Class B Division, beating larger boats.
Just over 37 feet long, with a beam of 21’7”, the cat represents a modern design approach that combines sailing performance with cruising comfort. The draft of 3’9” allows the boat to explore shallow waters better than most other cruising sailboats, particularly monohulls. With a mast clearance of under 57 feet, the boat is also able to travel the ICW. (Despite the fact that the boat is rated CE Class A for offshore passages, it is often prudent for sailors heading south in the fall to remain in the ICW as fall offshore weather windows can be tricky with frequent storms and high seas.)
The boat comes in a three-cabin layout with two heads, and a four-cabin layout, also with two heads. The three-cabin layout is ideal for couples or families, as the entire starboard hull is dedicated as the master stateroom. The head in the forward part of the hull includes a separate shower that will be much appreciated, especially with the head’s large opening hatch.
The port hull has two staterooms with a second head between them, also with a separate shower. For occasional guests, added crew for passages, or children, this configuration should work well, providing as much privacy as possible, something not always possible on a boat.
The saloon on the bridgedeck includes a chart table/nav station and an L-shaped settee. There is also a full galley with laminated wood countertop, two stainless steel sinks, two-burner propane stove with oven, and a stainless-steel refrigerator. The open feel of the saloon is particularly comfortable with the sliding door open into the cockpit. It blends the two areas into one space for a spacious living area. The overhead over the cockpit has a sliding, soft top that be opened out of the way when it is nice weather, but deployed when the sun is too much or the clouds promise a shower.
The interior of the Excess 11 has an Ash Honey Teak finish and with the sand-colored flooring is light and contemporary, which will appeal to younger buyers who have no taste for dark interior treatments.
Tankage on the Excess 11 includes 79 gallons of water, and 21 gallons for each holding tank for the two marine toilets. Total fuel capacity is 106 gallons, with rotomolded tanks in each hull holding 53 gallons to supply fuel to the two Yanmar 3YM30 29hp diesel saildrives.
The exterior of the catamaran reflects a performance orientation in all respects. The use of low-stretch, high strength Dyneema in running rigging is state-of-the-art, and the aft dual helms are also part of the Excess magic, as they provide an in-your-face sailing exposure with outstanding visibility in all directions. The builder did not tint the saloon windows to ensure the person at the helm can easily see through to the other side of the boat. And the steering systems use textile lines to provide a better feel between the rudders and wheel at the helm, which isn’t possible with traditional hydraulic steering systems. That will make sailing this cat a lot more fun, finding that groove where the sail plan is balanced, and the boat sails itself with just a finger on the wheel.
Unlike the bridgedeck helms one finds on most catamarans, which offer restricted visibility and where crew are physically disconnected from the water, the Excess brings the fun back to sailing. Despite the exposed location of the twin helms, realistically, in bad weather—or when making long offshore passages—the crew on watch will engage the boat’s autopilot.
There are numerous upgrades from the standard boat. One can order electric winches, and there are several rigging and sail options. These include the Pulse Line rigging and sail package, with a square-topped mainsail and self-tacking jib in upgraded sail material, and hardware for rigging a Code 0 (pole and furler). Even a carbon fiber mast is available.
Optional sails include an asymmetrical spinnaker and a choice of Code 0 sails in Mylar.
Raymarine is the marine electronic suite of choice, and the boat can be ordered, in addition to the basic sail away electronics, to add radar and AIS. Outfitting this boat will depends on how the sailing cat will be used. Not everyone plans to cross the Atlantic, as did Bombarda to win her class in the ARC.
Even the bold graphics on the Excess 11 make a statement. This catamaran reflects fresh thinking at Groupe Beneteau, whose mission is to refine the catamaran concept and bring back the pure joy of sailing. The Excess 11 combines the key elements of performance sailing with an interior that is all about comfortable cruising and living aboard.
The world of catamarans has certainly matured in the last decade. So, if you are ready to check out modern catamarans, it is worth taking a close look at the Excess 11. You just might be surprised to be on a boat that not only has all the comfort, space, and stability that one expects from a catamaran, but which is also fun to sail.
For all models:
What is special about the Excess Team at Groupe Beneteau is just one reason why Beneteau is the largest boat builder in the world. The Excess Team continues to research and experiment with better ways of building catamarans. Instead of maintaining status quo, building traditional models using modern materials but with building practices that have not changed in years, there is a concerted effort to move the bar forward with innovation and technology.
And Excess Catamarans created the Excess Lab to study new ideas and systems.
For example, the company is working to improve the design and installation of interior bulkheads. Every effort is made to find ways to reduce weight in the boat, always a good thing on a catamaran. But, more importantly, the goal is to make the boat’s structure as stiff as possible. A more rigid boat is a faster boat, as it doesn’t waste energy flexing under the forces of wind and waves, which is common in many multihulls. The torque exerted on the wide hulls in a seaway tends to flex the structure. In some boats this is quite noticeable, as trim, furniture, and doors expand and contract ever so slightly. The boat isn’t coming apart, but the flexing absorbs energy that would otherwise make the boat sail faster and react quicker to changes at the helm.
The Excess Lab test boat, an Excess 15, is testing several new technologies and systems that will hopefully become available in all Excess models. The Torqeedo Deep Blue 50kW electric propulsion motors are making hybrid propulsion a reality. Using lithium batteries and superb energy management technology that is similar to the latest electric cars, this automation and energy management heralds a new dimension to sailing in the not-too-distant future.
With solar panels, wind generators, and hydro generation made possible by the Torqeedo propulsion systems (the spinning propellers generate electricity when the boat is sailing), the days of needing a diesel generator are numbered.
To continue moving towards sustainable cruising, there are other potential solutions for cruising sailors looking to reduce their carbon footprint. An all-electric galley is now very doable and is a viable solution for those wanting to ditch propane systems and the headaches of handling propane tanks while cruising.
It is commendable to see a boat builder recognize and acknowledge these developments. It is unfortunate that many other boat builders are not keeping up with the realities of the modern cruising world. And they are reluctant to adjust their ways of doing things.
An example of this is the frustration felt by new boat owners who want this new technology but must do it themselves after they pick up their new boat. To get an all-electric galley, they must remove all components of a new propane system installation in order to install an induction stove. Or they must remove the battery system on their new boat and rewire it for lithium batteries with proper ventilation and the necessary energy management system. While builders may see sailors asking for these systems as only a small minority of the sailing community, they are just the early adopters of what will be the new normal in sustainable, cleaner cruising.
The Excess Lab team actively invites sailors to join the Excess Tribe, so its designers, engineers, and naval architects can engage people’s ideas, suggestions, and thoughts from around the world. This will help develop the boats, their systems, and their capabilities.
A published example of this is that cruisers expressed interest in increasing their self sufficiency by asking the builder to design a rainwater catchment system. This can be a valid alternative to an expensive watermaker, which is another system that needs regular maintenance and uses energy. If one can manage the challenges of filtering rainwater before it is put into the water tanks, the large external surface area of a wide catamaran is a perfect platform for making that a design feature of the boat.
There is no question that the enthusiastic team at Excess Catamarans wants to stay at the forefront of multihull development in a world that is increasingly asking for solutions to make sustainable cruising possible, while leaving a smaller footprint as they cruise the world.
|Length Overall:||37' 5|
|Max Draft:||3' 9|
|Horsepower (each):||2 x 29HP|
|Fuel Tank Capacity:||106 gal|
|Water Tank Capacity:||79 gal|
|Black Water Tank Capacity:||42 gal (holding tank)|