Exclusive / What could the next Excess catamarans look like?

Shorter nacelle and plunging bows: the first images of the Excess © Bénéteau

In Cannes, it was the big announcement of the Show: Groupe Bénéteau will launch a new brand of catamarans. But apart from a vague positioning more typical of performance than its Lagoon range and an unsustainable teasing that should last a few more months, we don't know much more about the XCS Excess Bateaux.com delivers its forecasts built with information flanges gleaned from the water...

Why a new brand?

The facts

Today, Lagoon is the undisputed leader of the habitable catamaran. Out of the 1,000 units sold each year worldwide, 450 are stamped Lagoon. All these models have turned, over the generations, towards ever larger and more comfortable catamarans. The main competitors - Fountaine-Pajot and Robertson & Caine - follow this trend, but remain a step below in terms of comfort. On the other hand, some manufacturers have managed to offer performance models such as Outremer and Catana.

Our prognosis

Groupe Bénéteau's strategy has always been to make volume; the group's factories are made for that. The small series does not correspond to the company's policy. So there is no need to produce Outremer bis, which would struggle to sell more than 20 copies per year. Launching direct competitors to the Fountaine and Leopard would not be very happy either: the boats could take market share from the Lagoons... On the other hand, an intermediate position - such as that of Nautitech - would correspond better to the manufacturer, who could seduce skippers wishing to enjoy a lighter, more efficient and exciting catamaran to sail than the current Lagoon.

Who develops the Excess?

The facts

It is indeed Groupe Bénéteau and not Lagoon that has just announced the creation of the Excess. A press release relates the interview with Bruno Belmont. This sailing marketing pro followed the whole Lagoon genesis - the yard was created by Jeanneau and its JTA division (Jeanneau Advanced Techniques) at the end of the 1990s. While Bruno has also worked for the Oceanis and Sense with various architectural firms - Finot/Conq, Berret/Racoupeau -, VPLP has been designing all the group's catamarans for him for over 20 years.

Our prognosis

You can't change a winning team! Bruno Belmont's presence at Excess augurs well for those of the VPLP architects and the use of the know-how of Lagoon's design offices. Excess is a new Bénéteau brand, but should in fact be managed from A to Z by Lagoon teams.

What could an Excess look like?

The facts

Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, one of the two in-house architects present at the launch of the Lagoon 46, defined the speed potential of a catamaran by its shell length to nacelle length ratio. For him, the most comfortable catamarans on the market are the Bali. And the Nautitechs in perfect intermediate position... The few images of the first Excess video show a shorter nacelle than that of a Lagoon, a thinner bimini and more diving bows. As for the mast, it remains very far back on the deckhouse.

Our prognosis

Obviously, the images presented do not serve as definitive plans... Lagoon will not risk proposing a catamaran that sacrifices too much comfort. The relatively low headroom in the hulls of the Lagoon 39 has resulted in poor sales while the 40, a little higher in freeboard, is very popular. It is therefore on the uninhabitable volumes - bows and sterns - that the Excess can nibble on weight. The nacelle should be shorter, even if it means making better use of the cockpit. No fly bridge, too heavy. The retreated rigging has proved its worth and should be renewed. As for the appendages, still no drifts but probably thinner, deeper and better profiled fins.

100/100 new or a little bit of Lagoon anyway?

The facts

The group's brands have long maintained a certain waterproofness. A Jeanneau was not a Bénéteau and vice versa. This differentiation is becoming blurred - in the same way that car manufacturers share chassis, engines or dashboard buttons. Today, on the production lines, the Jeanneau are sometimes side by side with the Bénéteau.

Our prognosis

The Excess will certainly be produced on the Lagoon sites - in the Vendée up to 50 feet and at CNB, in Bordeaux, for those over 50 feet. The design offices will necessarily be called upon to exploit the maximum number of existing Lagoon parts. For the rigging, deck layout and accommodation, this is not a problem. What about the hulls? A Lagoon consists of four moulded parts. Among them, only the bottom of the nacelle can be easily exploited on a new model that would have thinner and tighter hulls on the outside. The bridge would be new.

Who will distribute the Excess?

The facts

No information on this subject...

Our prognosis

Not easy... Jeanneau dealers do not sell Bénéteau or Lagoon... Can a Lagoon or Jeanneau dealer take the Excess card? Commercial choices that interested parties will follow closely, at least before the planned launch of the first Excess at the end of 2019!

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