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Helm Station Visibility Test

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The back position of the helm stations is a real signature of the Excess DNA. It often raises questions about visibility compared to a central helm station.

We took our Excess 11 sailing to test visibility from the helm stations. With a GoPro we filmed the view in every situation: leaving the harbor, motoring, day sail, night sail. Our intention is to provide you with a true view of the range of vision and potential blind spots.

Watch the video to see the results!

What should we test next?

13 comments
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S
Sail Tahiti
January 21, 2022
1 answer
I have now sailed for 700 miles on our Excess 11 Te Ava and I start to have a good feeling for the pros and cons of the helm positions. My expectations were that it would be nice to stir the Excess but I have been very very well surprised. It feels almost like a racing boat. When sailing upwind I don't sit on the seats but stand up on the side with my back against the side of the boat and my upper leg against the seat, and it feels exactly like steering a performance monohull and close to a sport catamaran. The other good thing is that you can move very quickly from one side to the other and with the Raymarine Upgrade option you have all the info and the auto pilot on both sides so you always control your boat and know what's happening, on top of seeing the sails from different angles. Also you see both bows quite well (despite the fact that I am very short at 1,63 m) so you know how your boat reacts with the waves, exactly like on a sport catamaran. The one negative thing which I discovered too late s that you should roll up the sides of the cockpit tent before doing marina maneuvers. They are transparent so you see through them but because they are in plastic they are not 100% straight so your vision is slightly distorted and it makes it harder to see how far your opposite bow is from the dock. Anyway as soon as we get a bit more south and the temperature increase we will roll them up all the times so it should not be a problem. Our next leg is from Cascais to Canary and we should have stronger wind and bigger waves so it will be a test to know wether the helm seats are protected enough. My thinking (having already sailed half way around the world on another cat and crossed a couple of oceans on monohulls) is that in bad weather you let the autopilot do the job and only get out of the cockpit (or dodger on a monohull) to maneuver. I tend to think that if you don't like getting wet you should not do sailing but of course there are various levels of getting wet... we will see!
H
Hiroshi Hamada
February 2, 2022
Glad to hear that you are enjoying the sailing. I totally agree with you on both points: steering performance and the visibility. From my experience, it would be easier to roll down the side enclosures in a triangle by detaching zippers of the top and front. Spray, salt, rain, wind, coldness.....yes, there are some challenges on Excess boats. Flybridge or higher/movable helm positions give you better protection as well as visibility.

But, not to mention, there are many pros and cons for any positions. I simply love Excess because everybody can be well connected thanks to the helm position. It is huge pleasure for an owner/skipper to sail off-shore with family/friends, talking, laughing, drinking, eating, fishing together.
F
Franciscoxpl@gmail.com
December 22, 2021
10 answers
Visibility is OK under normal circumstances. But in rough weather, not only you are exposed to the elements, but the water on the glass would make it impossible to see through. I love the XCSs, but this position is a major pitfall for me. Also, after a few days of sea water spraying the windshields, I bet the salt would make it very hard to see through. Besides, is spite of leaving more space on the cockpit, this position makes it harder to get to the stern. Aventura's and Leopard's positions are much more friendly, and I long for the day that XCS adopts it. I hope till then I have the money to buy one...
F
F Scott Collins
March 16, 2022
I was in rough weather on my Xcs 15 and I was soaked and you couldn't see through the windows.
F
Franciscoxpl@gmail.com
March 16, 2022
As expected: that's the major flaw of this beautiful vessel. I understand they want to "think out of the box", but this is not a very practical solution.
S
Sail Tahiti
March 18, 2022
F Scott Collins your experience is very interesting. Was it upwind going back up towards California? I have now sailed 5500 miles on our Excess 11 and have never had any visibility problems. When sailing offshore if the weather is rough we tend to stay inside or in the cockpit. We go to the helmstation for the pleasure of steering or for harbour maneuvers. Before entering a harbour we rinse the windows with fresh water and furl the side panels of the cockpit tent.
F
F Scott Collins
March 18, 2022
Upwind in the Sea of Cortez of Sea, interval about two seconds and 25 knots of wind. In following seas of 6'-8' your feet get wet.
F
Franciscoxpl@gmail.com
March 18, 2022
Sail Tahiti: that's a lot to do when approaching a harbour. And even tending to stay inside in rough weather, it is always good to know that you can steer safely and with comfort in case of necessity.
S
Sail Tahiti
March 18, 2022
F Scott Collins I completely agree in big following seas you get your feet wet. I have shown it in some of our videos. I did not get soaked though and have had a great time at the helm. I have created a simple system to prevent water coming from the back now, we are exchanging ideas with the design team about it. The aft helm position is the signature of all performance catamarans : Catana, Outremer, ORC. It has some drawbacks for sure but overall I think the feeling you get makes it really attractive. The last time I sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific was on a Catana and it was very similar, but the Excess is more comfortable and more exciting to steer (the Catana had an all hydraulic steering system).
Francisco when I am not delivering boats across oceans or sailing with my family I do a lot of sea trials as I work as a boat dealer....I probably do 2 sea trials per month, on all brands of catamarans and monohulls. I always furl the Bimini sides and make sure I have a perfect visibility before doing a harbour maneuver, so the Excess is not different from any other boat I have sea trialed so far...it's really a question of personal choice. You can prefer a flybridge, a semi flybridge, an aft helm station, a dual system like on the Outremer, a helming seat above the water on the side of the boat like on the ORC...each brand of catamaran offers a unique design that will appeal to some sailors. So when I meet someone who wants to buy a boat and go cruising I first try to understand what they like, what motivates them. I advise some people to get a Leopard or Lagoon, and others who are looking more for performance and sailing feelings I advise them to buy an Outremer, Gunboat or Excess depending on their budget and experience...
F
F Scott Collins
March 18, 2022
I like the position but just like any other boats has its drawbacks. It is great for docking, I love the feel but because it is lower and my 15 curves inward at the bow sometimes it is hard to see forward; especially, smaller craft.
S
Sail Tahiti
March 18, 2022
I see what you mean. It will also. be true when cruising inside an atoll like we have in Polynesia with plenty of uncharted coral heads. On any boat you need someone at the bows giving directions to the helms person but I think with the Excess it will be even more important.
Herve
Herve
March 23, 2022
Dear F Scott Collins,
Were you sailing with the bimini enclosures when you met this rough seastate? Could you please give us more feedback about the improvements you would expect on those enclosures?
Hervé
F
F Scott Collins
March 23, 2022
I only have the Bimini shade, not the enclosure.