Groupe Beneteau, builder of Lagoon catamarans, has introduced a new multihull line called Excess. The first of the boats to reach U.S. shores at the Annapolis boat show was the Excess 12, a 38ft 6in design based on the popular Lagoon 40. The thought process behind this new boat was driven by customer feedback, with an eye toward creating a light, open cat that connects the crew more directly with the sailing experience. According to Beneteau, the target market for this sporty-looking design includes monohull sailors in search of something new and multihull aficionados looking for the wind-in-your-hair experience that makes them feel more “at one” with whatever boat they’re on.
Design & Construction
Construction of the Excess is much like that of the Lagoon, with vacuum-infusion and balsa coring in both the deck and hull above the waterline. Built in three sections, the Excess 12 has the same bridge deck and inner-hull design under the waterline as the Lagoon 40. However, the outer hull sections were reshaped by the specialists at VPLP to include two new chines that create more interior volume and a slightly different aesthetic overall. To enhance performance, literally a ton of weight was taken out of the boat relative to the Lagoon 40, most of it in interior furnishings.
The differences aboard the new Excess are immediately visible from the dock, primarily because of the twin helm stations aft on each hull and the fact that there’s no flybridge. The starboard helm has a Raymarine MFD and engine controls. The port helm has wind instruments and an attachment for a tablet, which acts as a repeater. An option I would certainly consider is adding engine controls to both sides. They’re well integrated into the outboard hull sides at hip level where you can reach them without taking your eyes off the bows when docking.
A double seat for the driver and a companion is located at each helm and each is designed to fold up and tuck away to provide clear access to the aft steps and swim platforms. An often-heard complaint with this kind of outboard layout is that it leaves the person at the helm exposed to the elements. However, Excess has come up with a fairly elegant solution in the form of a bimini structure that wraps in from outboard to provide a sunshade above. It’s the least intrusive solution I’ve seen in this kind of configuration, and it works.
Another contentious issue with having twin helms aft is visibility, and while many of the designers of such models will claim you can see the opposite bow through the saloon, I’ve found that claim to be somewhat dubious, at best. That said, aboard the Excess 12 the design team appears to have truly dialed it in, and you can actually see all the way down to the tips of both bows. Excess has even gone so far as to make all the windows with clear rather than tinted glass, allowing you to see through equally well at night.
Our test boat also had an accordion sunroof that opened and closed manually. It’s an option that reduces weight higher up and lets the sunshine in on chilly days. However, it also makes it more difficult to tuck the lines into the mainsail bag since you can’t step onto the canvas middle. In terms of colors, the Excess 12 is offered with either gray or orange trim. The choice will depend on how daring you feel.
The Excess 12 is offered with four cabins/four heads; four cabins/two heads; or three cabins/two heads. In the owner’s version, the master suite is in the port hull with a cut-away bed aft, a large head and shower stall forward, and a vanity desk and sofa amidships.
Throughout, the French builder has focused on streamlining the interior wood structures and in so doing has done away with various bits of cabinetry hardware, including drawer pulls. The effect is a smoother and lighter interior that still does all you need it to. One oversight was the placement of the microwave, which now sits on an elevated pedestal and looks odd. The company representative aboard for our test sail, however, assured me that this was being addressed and would change.
A Fischer Panda genset is optional, and its start controls are in the owner’s cabin to port. Also to port is a corner nav desk just ahead of the galley. That’s a good place for it to be for quick and convenient middle-of-the night safety checks by the skipper.
The Excess 12 is offered in two versions: Standard and Pulse. The latter is the souped-up iteration with a 3ft-taller mast and an additional 54 sq. ft of sail. The mast in both configurations is positioned well aft to make the main smaller and easier to handle for shorthanded crews. Both versions also have a self-tacking jib and square top main. Another performance advantage to the Pulse line is its gray tri-radial laminate Incidence sails, which is how the boat for our test sail on the Chesapeake was outfitted. A sprit is optional and serves as the attachment point for a Code 0, which on the Pulse line is 86 sq.ft larger than on the standard version of the boat. It’s a versatile sailplan, easily managed by a cruising couple.
Conditions for our test sail were light, with 7-10 knots of breeze. Still, we managed 4.5 to 5 knots at an apparent wind angle of 50 degrees, with our speed over ground climbing to 5.4 knots as we cracked off to 75 degrees AWA. The Code 0 would have been nice to have given the breeze and would undoubtedly have made for even better sailing. All in all, I was impressed.
With a 22ft beam, the 29 hp Yanmar diesels (upgraded to 39hp on our test boat) are set wide for easy maneuvering. With the boat’s Flexofold propellers at wide-open throttle and 3,700 rpm, we motored at 6.8 knots. A more economical cruising speed was at 2,300 rpm and 6.1 knots. Engine access is via the transoms, but the engines are set fairly far forward, so access to belts and impellers will be a stretch. The aft portion of the starboard engine room has adequate space for the installation of an optional watermaker, which will be appreciated on longer voyages.
The Excess line will eventually include models from 36 to almost 50ft. I must admit that because the Excess 12 shares so much of its DNA with the earlier Lagoon model, I had my reservations about how different it was going to be. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful changes and especially the good visibility forward from the two helm stations. Vive la difference!
LOA 38ft 6in LWL 38ft Beam 22ft 1in Draft 4ft 5in Displacement 22,712lb (light ship) Sail Area 882 sq.ft (std.); 936ft (Pulse) Fuel/Water (GAL) 106/79 Engine 2 x 29hpo Yanmar (std.) SA/D Ratio 18 (std.); 19 (Pulse) D/L Ratio 185 Designer VPLP Builder Excess Catamarans, Bordeaux, France, excess-catamarans.com Price $450,000 (sailaway) at time of publication.
MHS Winter 2019