November 14 2018
Bruno Belmont, at the heart of the development of Excess catamarans for the Bénéteau Group, tells us more about the choice of these twin helm stations...
Bruno Belmont, why did you decide, at Bénéteau Group, to have aft twin helms on Excess Catamarans?
Bruno Belmont - It is the ideal position to keep an eye on the sea and sails, whether windward or leeward, and above all, it provides the most sensations at the helm. As catamarans are easy to manoeuvre in the harbour, it is also the best position to dock along a quay or pontoon. Also, since we chose vertical and non-tinted windows, the visibility through the roof will be excellent, ensuring safe watches when sailing.
This positioning, unlike high helm stations, also allows lowering the boom to the maximum. This position increases the mainsail’s efficiency as it comes along the bimini, and uses plate theory. Sure enough, the area of the bimini very close to the bottom of the sail improves the air flow in this strategic area. Also, the low boom makes access to the mainsail easier, when hauling it and when you want to put the sail away in the Lazy Bag.
How is the feel of the helm different?
Bruno Belmont - First, we are closer to the sea, aligned with a float (windward or leeward according to preferences and speeds) which enables us to tackle waves in the best way. Then, we have a shifted view on the sail plan, which allows us to trim sails better. Also, the distance between the helms and rudders is reduced to the minimum, which lowers the length of steering cables and gives much more direct responses. In fact, we chose to equip Excess catamarans with dyneema ropes that are lighter and more direct than stainless steel cable ropes.
Last, but certainly not least, this architectural choice puts the skipper back at the centre of the boat. It is not on the one hand the helm station and on the other the cockpit. This changes things entirely. Life on board becomes smoother and more pleasant. The experience shared on board an Excess is total and more intense.
The twin helms assert the sportiness of Excess catamarans. It is both a token of sensations and efficiency, and an element that plays a part in the boat's aesthetics.