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Excess 12: Rediscovering the joy of sailing!

Announced a little over a year ago now, the new Excess catamaran brand have just presented their first two models, the 12 and the 15. And it’s the former we are unveiling here. A new concept more focused on performance and the pleasure of sailing, but without denying any comfort: does the Excess 12 live up to her promises?

The first two Excess catamarans were presented to the public for the very first time at the Cannes Yachting Festival; it would be fair to say that these two catamarans have been much-awaited! The simple fact that the Bénéteau Group, world leader in yachting, is launching a new multihull brand, this is an event in itself. First, we need to understand their choice: Lagoon occupies almost half of the market, so why try this bet? Precisely because Lagoon can hardly do better, according to marketing experts... hence the idea of offering more performance-oriented catamarans under another brand, designed to attract an audience directly from the monohull and/or younger audience, who are water-sports enthusiasts. Let's be clear from the outset, the Lagoon team has been in charge of the project. And as we will see later, many elements of the Excess 12 have been borrowed from the Lagoon 40. On the other hand, the distribution network is different.

A shorter nacelle and twin helm stations

Moored side by side in Cannes, the Excess 12 and the Lagoon 40 have two clear differences: the new model adopts a shorter nacelle and has twin helm stations - one on each hull. As for everything else, the Excess remains faithful to the aft-set rigging and the self-tacking jib. Many elements are common to both models, starting with the mold for the hulls and the underside of the nacelle, and - in part - the deck mold. The other two molds, those for the outboard topsides, are new. They have a pronounced rib and a more pronounced shear. The design of the coachroof is also new. Compared to the Lagoon 40, the Excess is a little lighter and carries more canvas - in the Pulse Line version. At Port Adriano, in southwest Mallorca, we were able to try out the same model as was on show at Cannes. That being a fully-loaded Excess 12 - air conditioning, generator, electric winches, asymmetric spinnaker, gennaker, etc. The engines on this boat are 45 hp, compared to 29 as standard.

Boosted by the Pulse Line rig

These two higher-powered engines are pretty quiet and make dock maneuvering even easier: turning by inverting the throttles is even more straightforward. At cruising speed, you can reach 7/8 knots without pushing it. The electric controls are brought back to each helm station - everything would be perfect if the system for switching control from one station to the other was more intuitive, and therefore faster. With a selection of electric winches at our disposal, hoisting the mainsail is merely a formality. Sail maneuvers are divided into three areas: starboard side of the cockpit, port side of the cockpit and the aft beam for the two mainsheets. A network of trunking leads the halyards and other lines from the mast foot to the cockpit clutches. Everything works perfectly, but the two rigid parts of the bimini hide the sail plan: you need to move yourself outside to see what you're doing. Close-hauled, it’s difficult to expect better than 55 to 60° off the wind if it’s less than 10 knots. The official GPS verdict: 5 knots at 50° off the wind, but already 6 knots at 60°. The Excess 12 prefers a slightly stronger wind for a more precise tacking. From 15 knots of wind, this peaks at 55° and speed stabilizes 7 knots. Provided the sea is not too choppy - the ease of the Excess 15 (full test to appear in the magazine very soon) which is very close to us, shows that the length, and this is even truer under load, is definitely THE number one performance factor! Note: most of the heavier equipment – tanks and batteries, etc. - of the Excess are well centered. Tacking the boat is a simple affair: the Excess 12 pivots straight round onto the other tack, without you needing to touch the sheets. Hoisting the gennaker is equivalent to triggering a turbo: 8 knots speed is quickly exceeded. With the large asymmetric spinnaker, thanks to a coastal effect, we’re touching 9 knots. Here, we taste a real feeling of sliding through the water. A check of the polars shows that the Pulse Line rig, with its 5% greater sail area, offers an average gain of 0.3 knots under almost all conditions. There's always a price to pay, but this gap remains smaller than that of the folding propellers vs. standard fixed propellers. Take note, readers…

An opening bimini for the cockpit!

The helmsman, usually positioned to windward, is in for a treat: the helm is precise and the view of the sail plan and across the water is only partially masked by the coachroof. A mini bimini provides protection against the most vertical rays of the sun - and rain if the wind isn’t too strong. And there’s a folding seat system: sitting there, you are well settled - and even in pairs since the seats are 1.50 m (5’) long - especially since footrests are provided. The hinges are a bit aggressive, have some play and the backs fold down on their own when downwind – little things which need improving. The strong point of the cockpit, in addition to its very large surface area, is its opening bimini: a large canvas acts as a soft top. The ease of installation could be improved, but the pleasure of sailing "open top" when the conditions allow it is undeniable. An (excellent) idea inspired by the Sense monohull range. Access to the boom remains possible from the sides of the bimini, without resorting to acrobatics. As an option, the manufacturer offers a set of canopies to fully enclose the cockpit. The same goes for the helm stations. The exterior table measures 160 by 55 cm (5’3” x 22”). The rear seat is 175 cm (5’9”) long. The coachroof has a recess on the outboard edge, which acts as a handrail. Access to the large trampolines is therefore perfectly safe - especially since nowhere is the width of the side-decks less than 65 cm (26”).

A cheerful and functional interior 

The entrance to the nacelle, like the Lagoons, isn’t giving in to the ‘Open’ trend: the glazing aft, yes, but the flush-decked entrance remains traditional with 62 cm (24”) width at the bottom and 140 (4’7”) at the top. The headroom is generous, at 2.10 m (6’11”). Although shallower than the Lagoon 40, the nacelle retains a beautiful volume with a 116 x 74 cm (3’10”x 30”) saloon table and a nav station facing athwartships - the top measures 84 x 58 cm (33”x23). The L-shaped galley is very complete and well equipped with storage space. You can choose an additional refrigerator or freezer and even a multifunctional display tucked away in a cabinet. The port hull of our test model is dedicated to the owner - large, easily accessible bed, desk, storage space, bathroom. The starboard hull accommodates two cabins. All are well ventilated by three opening hatches aft, and two at the front. The Excess is available with four cabins and two bathrooms or four - the latter version will be perfect for charter but sacrifices some of the width of the forward berths. Inside, the abundant light, the cheerful fabrics and the light woodwork are pleasant: you get a good feeling on board. Several ambiances are available - Work hard, play hard; Less is More and Fast and Curious. All with a nod to the modern and connected clientele…

Conclusion

The Excess 12 undoubtedly offers more pleasure under sail than a Lagoon 40. Take the helm and feel the wind, glance at the telltales: we love it! This catamaran is also more elegant on the water with her shorter nacelle and more measured freeboard forward. However, the performance, even with the Pulse Line rig, doesn’t provide a spectacular bonus. But let’s not forget that our test model was significantly burdened by the many options. As for the price: it may seem higher at first sight than the Lagoon 40... but the Excess comes standard with many almost indispensable features – square-topped mainsail, davits, 220V system, battery charger etc. - Congratulations are due for the spirit of the interior layout: simpler, but just as comfortable. I’ll bet that the character of the Excess brand will come into its own with the forthcoming models - the 11 is due to be presented at Düsseldorf.

Technical specifications:

Builder: Excess Catamarans

Architect: VPLP

Exterior design: Patrick Le Quément

Interior design: Nauta Design

Overall length: 11.73 m (38’6”)

Hull length: 11.46 m (37’7”)

Width: 6.73 m (22’1”)

Draft: 1.35 m (4’5”)

Standard air draft: 18.27 m (59’11”)

Displacement: 10.3 t (22,700 lbs)

Sail area: 82/87 m² (880/940 sq ft)

Mainsail: 50/52 m² (540/560 sq ft)

Self-steering jib: 32/35 m² (345/375 sq ft)

Code 0: 67/75 m² (720/810 sq ft)

Motorization: 2 x 29 or 2 x 45 HP

Fuel: 2 x 200 l (2 x 53 US gal)

Water: 300 l (80 US gal)

Price excluding tax: € 311,000

 

Main options ex-tax:

Pulse Line version: €17,950

Additional for 40.2 starboard aft electric winch instead of the standard: €2,950.

Code 0 fittings with pole and furler: €5,282

Code 0 mylar standard sail plan: €7,400

Code 0 mylar Pulse Line: €8,096

Raymarine electronics pack: €3,500

Canvas opening bimini: €5,554

2nd helm seat to port: €2,850

Aft cockpit sole + sugarscoops in synthetic teak: €6,272

Additional for large teak table: €820

Forward pulpit and composite seat with front guardwires: €1,041

12V Refrigerator 40L (1.4 cu ft) in the cockpit: €1,294

Carbon passerelle 2.60 m (8’6”) folding with cover + 2 brackets: €2,750

2 x 45 HP motors: €4,943

Electric controls for motors at the helm stations: € 9,280

Three-bladed folding propellers: €2,420

Panda generator 9kVA 230V/50Hz + cocoon: €20,294

AGM batteries instead of standard acid batteries: €697

Inverter 12/230V - 2kVA: €2,850

Solar panels on davits (4X120W): €8,160

CL290 dinghy pack with Yamaha 10HP outboard: €7,750

Price of the model we tested: €493,543 ex-tax


Pluses

Pleasure at the helm

Openable cockpit

Self-tacking jib

Minuses

Lack of visibility of the sailplan from the maneuvering areas

Perfectible folding helm seats

Not easy to switch control of the engines from one helm station to the other

 

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