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Boat Review: Excess 15

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Groupe Beneteau, builder of Lagoon Catamarans, debuted its new Excess multihull line at the Dusseldorf boat show in Germany in 2018. At the time they held a press conference where I may have been a bit of a pain as I asked what I thought were appropriate questions about the target market and what the difference was between these new boats and Lagoon. In fact, the first two models launched were based on a pair of existing Lagoon designs: the Excess (or XCS) 12 and 15 representing sportier versions of the Lagoon 40 and 50 respectively. I confess I had my doubts—but then I sailed them.

Design & Construction

Construction of the Excess line is vacuum-infusion with balsa coring in the deck and hulls above the waterline. Built in three sections, the Excess 15 has the same bridge deck and inner hulls under the waterline as the Lagoon 50, but different outer hull halves. Design firm VPLP took about a ton of weight out of the Lagoon version by lightening up interior fixtures and doing away with the flybridge. In fact, no XCS model, current or future, will be a fly design, in an effort to emphasize the line’s focus on sportiness under sail.

On Deck

Like its two siblings (XCS 12 and 11), the XCS 15 comes equipped with twin helms on the aft ends of the boat’s two hulls. The starboard steering pod includes a Raymarine MFD and engine controls; the port helm has wind instruments and an attachment for a tablet. You can opt for engine controls on both sides, which would be a worthy investment adding scads of confidence when it’s time to dock.

A double seat for the driver and a companion can also be found at each helm. These both fold up and away to provide clear access to the steps and swim platforms. I’m still waiting for the builder to make these a bit more comfortable by curving the backrest to provide more room. Overhead, Excess includes an elegant structure on each side that provides the helms a bit of protection from the sun and rain. These mini biminis, so to speak, are unobtrusive and well-integrated: a good solution.

Before my test sail, the builder claimed the age-old problem of seeing forward from two aft helms had been remedied by the vertical windows in the saloon at the front of the cabinhouse. I was skeptical at first, but in the XCS they have, indeed, dialed in forward visibility, so that you can actually see all the way through the saloon down to the tips of both bows from the wheels.

Other on-deck features aboard the Excess 15 include 1) the soft-top accordion sunroof and 2) a forward cockpit complete with an actual lounge. It’s the perfect place to sunbathe or escape the heat of a setting sun baking the aft cockpit when swinging to anchor in the trades. I’d like to see the nonskid on the coachroof taken all the way to the edge since the smooth surface mixes poorly with wet feet on a moving platform. However, was happy to see that Excess has added elongated handrails extending almost all the entire way forward.

The saloon windows afford great views

The saloon windows afford great views

Accommodations

The Excess 15 comes with four cabins/four heads or three cabins/three heads with the owner’s version dedicating the entire starboard hull to a master suite. Once there, he or she can spread out and enjoy not only the large head in the bow with his and hers sinks, but a desk and outboard sofa. Personally, I’d do away with the sofa and add lockers. With all the other luxurious spaces to hang out in, it’s unlikely anyone will lounge in the cabin. Presumably, there’s also a layout somewhere including up to six cabins, which may appear if these models end up in charter.

The saloon is reminiscent of the Lagoon 50, but in the XCS 15 it’s lighter, sleeker and more contemporary. An L-shaped settee is slightly elevated above the rest of the main deck and faces a bench seat aft of the compression post. Seven can gather here comfortably. The port corner of the settee also serves as a seat for a pseudo-nav desk. The galley is tucked into the aft port corner with refrigeration and added countertop space to the right of the glass entry door.

In creating the interiors for their new line, the designers at Excess and Group Beneteau focused on streamlining the interior wood in order to both lighten up the new boats, as much as possible, in addition to creating a new aesthetic—and it worked. One oversight is the lack of overhead hatches. Granted, the entire aft section of the cabin opens rather nicely But when it’s hot fear things may get pretty toasty.

Under Sail

For all the test sails where I get skunked with little or no wind, there are also those days that make up for it—like our test sail on the XCS 15 off the beach of Fort Lauderale. The Excess 15 is offered in either “Standard” or “PulseLine” configurations, and we had the latter, which adds the optional sprit for a Code 0 and about 120ft2 of the upwind sail area between the square-top main and self-tacking jib. I’ve long thought the ideal sailplan, especially for recreational short-handed sailing, includes a self-tacker and a big downwind sail on a furler, so our setup was perfect.

Again, test-sail conditions were ideal, with 12-18 knots of wind and a light, 3ft chop. With three of us aboard, the XCS 15 felt a bit like Papa Bear’s chair, but while it’s a huge platform, the boat is by no means difficult to manage. If you think two boats within sight of one another equals a race, then you probably know what I mean when I say three A-types on one boat will yield similar results. In the end we maxed out at 10.5 knots with the Code 0 on a broad reach. Under jib and main alone, we made around 8 knots sailing within 60 degrees of the true wind. Good times!

Under Power

Standard propulsion is twin 57hp Yanmar diesels (upgraded to 80hp on our test boat). With folding propellers, we motored 7.5 knots wide open and around 6.5 at cruise. Conditions were mild enough that we didn’t really get to see if the bridgedeck would slam in big seas. The boat was responsive and remained easy to handle throughout.

Conclusion

The Excess line will eventually include five models from 11-15 meters. Again, the XCS 12 and XCS 15 were adapted from existing Lagoon designs, with the 11 designed from scratch. The 13 and 14 are coming soon. We really did have a blue bird day in Lauderdale as we tacked back and forth in a small chop, chocolate croissants in hand—oh là là! That said, while the pastries were a nice touch, it was the sailing that made the day. Despite my doubts about the Excess line back in Dusseldorf, I must say, I’m eating crow (and croissants) now. 

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LOA 48ft 5in LWL 46fr 11in Beam 26ft 4in Draft 4ft 7in Displacement 42,018lb (light ship) Sail area 1,657ft2 Fuel/Water (GAL) 274/126 Engines 2 x 80hp Yanmar (upgraded) SA/D Ratio 22 D/L Ratio 182 Builder Excess Catamarans, Bordeaux, France, excess-catamarans.com Price $1.1 million (as tested)

MHS Summer 2021

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