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Excess 11 – The feline of sailing cats.

by John Curnow, Global Editor, SailWorldCruising.com 8 Jun 07:39 BST

I had faced meeting the Excess 11 with a certain amount of trepidation. This was not because I felt like I was being watched by a wolf pack of hungry lionesses.

Although it was wonderful to find out that they were merely a collection of fluffy Steiff toys brilliantly arranged on the grassy knoll to throw me off the scent, as it were. How so? Well the Excess 11 has managed to change the paradigm of the small cruising cat forever.

To appreciate that, we need unpack it, for in the simplicity is the brilliance. Historically, small cruising cats, and this one is just 37’ 6” LOA, find it hard to get all the proportions right. The complications of high freeboard for volume, coachhouse roof height, and then the boom on top of all of that, never subsequently get a chance to realign coherently over such a short distance from stem to stern.

So from afar, the notion of a lower roofline in the overall profile might have you thinking the nautical equivalent of the Volvo 262C. However, start your approach and it is far more akin to the sleek and sporty Lamborghini Espada, or Jaguar E-Type Shooting Brake (the fixed head coupé).

Now get up close and personal, and you discover that this is where you definitively, and somewhat speedily, get to see how marvellous it is that Excess has been able to get it all to be simpatico. This is helped by the 16.63m ‘Pulse Line’ stick (1.1m higher than standard) being well aft in the modern style (nice one VPLP!), and the main being almost a deck sweeper across the coachhouse roof, with the boom extending right to the aft end of the main deck.

So by the time the rags are up, and that massive square top main (59m2) gets an airing, it is not an, ‘Ah huh’, kind of moment at all. It is more like ‘Oh thank you very much!’

Say what?

Now the added benefit of this set up is that the centre of effort is low and well aft, and I have never enjoyed sailing with a self-tacking heady (23m2) anywhere near as much as I have with the Excess 11. There it is. It has been said. Cannot take it back now. The genie is out of the bottle.

As for grunt, well there is no problem, and you’ll be going for slabs at 18 knots true, if not getting the first in a smidgeon earlier. Naturally, the upside of all of that is you’ll be sailing (not motorsailing), in less than five, especially in combination with the fractional Code Zero (62m2 with our Pulse Line version).

Got your interest? Well we should have, because the next thing to wax on about is space on deck and below. I had been on a forty-something multihull just a week earlier, and the Excess 11 is no beamier, obviously shorter, and it murdered it for spaces to chill up top, up for’ard, and down below, where there are two really well sized cabins in the Port hull, with the aft one a Queen and running athwartships. The Starboard hull is reserved for the Owner, with XL King Bed aft and it too is also listed as athwartships (although it is 2mx2m, so the orientation is up to you), the office is central, and bathroom for’ard. It is a lesson for bigger vessels. QED. Well-done Nauta Design.

If I had to whinge, it would be that you’re head first on the King Bed in the for’ard Port cabin. Never a fan of that, but is an easy fix, for you can sleep head aft when underway, and revert when at anchor, and the libations could see you needing the easiest path ‘home’, as it were.

So enough of all that. Let’s go for a yacht.

The first thing you notice about the Excess 11 is that it is much a like a domestic cat. Say a Siamese. It’s a bit springy, can be wilful (which you might take as independent or true to form), and considers itself stylish. The overarching notion you get left with is that it is easy to see why in excess (Boom. Boom. Basil Brush.) of 150 Excess 11s have been sold so far. It is very much consistent to the brand’s DNA of delivering all the right sailing sensations, without flying a hull.

Injection moulding of the lid and deck are crucial components, as too is resin fusion of the hulls. Being nine metric tonnes and owning a Sail Area to Displacement ratio of 4.44 does speak directly to the DNA discussion. I’ve said it before; if you are a sailor, and going for an Excess, then the Pulse Line rig, along with Code 0 and A-Bag (110m2), are essential to deliver both the enjoyment you seek, and the passage making capabilities you require.

Just like the four-cabin version of the Excess 11, the standard rig would seem to be for the charter market, and data from Excess in an earlier Editorial, When I was young, I did everything to excess..., would support this.

She is quite the little surprise. We were doing 6.5knots off about 11 at say 38 TWA. You even get to be your very own Tom Slingsby, or James Spithill, and run from helm to helm over trampoline, which is solid fibreglass of course, during your tacks and gybes.

Yet the big thing, and it is pretty huge, is that the Excess 11 actually sails. Probably the only thing it does not do that a mono does, is power up quite as quickly. You’ll want to be a bit generous as you come out of the tacks, and give it a bit of meat. Other than that it really does behave as a mono would.

We were in two-sail mode, as the Zero had missed its flight. None the less, we could go down to 165, and play with it a bit, heating up if it goes too fat, or the breeze crumped on you. The point was, you were actually sailing it, and you could goosewing the whole thing if you wanted to go dead downhill in a bit of puff.

In reaching and running you did get a slight lift of the windward hull, but I have to say nothing transported me back on board anywhere near as much as playing my recordings back and listening to the sound of the wake from the two transoms. The enjoyment is evident, especially when Micah Lane from Flagstaff Marine was describing how much of a ball he was having. You’ll have to take my word for his accompanying smile, but remember he was a driver of an 18-footer for years, and has helmed in offshore races too. I cannot determine who was more of a Captain Araldite, Micah or me as I had handed over to record some notes, but quite evidently this is a sailor’s cruising cat.

As the mainsheet is at end of deck, and the boom, there is a flying barberhauler for super broad reaching and shy running conditions to keep the leech nice. The upside is that it is also the preventer for when you are going well deep.

So it is very evident that all the early learnings have been supplanted into this model. Our building breeze was now puffing 15, whereas it had just been 12 earlier, and we were able to reach our hull speed of 8 or so really easily. So yes, you can use all of it, and the enjoyment is inexorably linked.

The loads are OK on the strings, I bounced the main all the way up, and never felt like the nearing full Larry in the main was ever going to be a burden to ease or grind back in, but I do get why the electric winches (you can have one or two as an option) would get the nod. I would have the one on the Starboard side where the bulk of the control lines go as a mandatory box tick, and seeing as I would have Zero and A-Bag get regular airings, then the one on Port where their fractional halyard is would also be taken. Equally, if you are trimming the flying headsail sheets it just makes it so effortless.

The Excess 11 turns in beautifully. This is a vessel you will sail. Do use the autopilot when adjusting control lines, as she is a smidgeon wilful and will go up on you, as she is keen to show you her independence. You know, I like that the Excess 11 does want to come up to wind, and not sit there like an apartment block. It is actually one of the best ways to illustrate that this is a mono on two hulls, and a bit like a horse in stable, just keen to get out and stretch the legs somewhat.

You will have a slab in at 18, for there is no need for more power, and some might go for two. Speed won’t be affected, and it is all so easy via single line reefing.

What to do?

Like everything in the new era, there’s a bit of a wait involved, as supply chains meet and production can take place. There is another Excess 11 due in Australia before 2022 is done, but the next available slot is June 2023, and then whenever it can make a ship after that in the game of ‘logistics nightmare’ that everyone is enduring right now...

To my mind, the storming success is due to the avant-garde styling, the available power, low centre of effort (I really like that), and then utterly stupendous volume. How does what is effectively squat cat at 37-and-a-bit feet fit so much in? And do it in a way where you can walk in through doors face on, not sideways, which I have had to do on bigger cats, and then contemplate the inherent safety issues, apart from anything else!

It would be easy to use a term like Tardis at this point, but I am going with Hermione Granger’s Mokeskin pouch in relation to the ratio of outside dimension to inside carrying capacity. At any rate, and without any doubt, the Excess 11 takes the Excess-thing to a new level, and you also get to ponder what the new 14 will do when it arrives into that larger cat space.

The sight lines are really awesome, with the main or C-Pillars being virtually invisible. OK, a bit of a wax on, but there is no major or discernable impediment on offer. Interestingly, and in direct contrast to the Excess 12 where I felt you had to have the convertible roof to see the mainsail and have that all-important Excess connection, with the 11 there is no such requirement. Undeniably this is because you look over it more. For sure have the optional folding roof for dinner under the stars, but if you want a heap of solar panels on the fixed deckhead, then you won’t be missing out on the sailing part, just the ambience aspect.

Perhaps just like a domestic cat you could cruise past the legs of the team at Flagstaff Marine, and see if it helps garner attention. It might work, and won’t hurt either. So all of that might be terrific, but honestly you’re just going to have to put your money down, be patient, and then wait for dinnertime (which hopefully comes soon enough).

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