New Boat: Axopar 37 XC Cross Cabin

The second generation 37 offers more options in a very seaworthy package.

Miami and Vaasa are unofficial sister cities in spirit alone. While both have a dedicated population of boaters eager to get out on the water, the differences are vast. Miami’s coastline is dominated by large mansions and big pleasure boats. Vaasa, Finland, is made up of rocky shorelines and modest summer homes, with barebones boats designed for utilitarian purposes. Miami has a yearlong boating season; Vaasa has about four months of cruising time in between ice melts. Miami boaters can cruise to The Bahamas; Vaasa residents can take their boats to Sweden—but mostly just take them from point A to B.

After visiting both places, one may surmise that a Finnish boat would have no place in Miami. They would be wrong.

Axopar was co-founded by Jan-Erik Viitala in 2014 in response to the extreme sea conditions of his homeland. The first model was a 28-footer with a twin-stepped hull and a knifelike bow that slices through all kinds of wave sets. But it was the success of the 37 that helped turn Axopar into the biggest boatbuilder in all the Nordic countries, garnering international attention for a performance-oriented vessel available at a highly competitive price. (They also offer a 24-foot model.) Today, Axopar has 100 dealers in 50 countries. They can produce six boats in five days at their factory in Poland, and their models—like the new 37 XC Cross Cabin—are found all over the U.S., including Miami.

That’s where I found one back in February. On a Biscayne Bay limned with light, I took the helm of the new 37. The walkaround cabin offered solid visibility, even with two crewmembers eating cereal on the forward sunpad. (Don’t ask.) It was a flat-calm morning before a parade of boats inundated the bay, but we were able to find a decently sized trawler kicking up wake to get a feel for the boat’s seaworthiness. Not only was the 37 seaworthy, its tracking and handling were exceptional. Like Boating for Dummies exceptional. Like where-has-this-been-all-my-life exceptional. Outfitted with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards, we saw a top end close to 47 knots as pieces of Cap’n Crunch wafted on the breeze.

Axopar 37 XC Cross Cabin

While Viitala looks to the future, eventually adding two completely new models to the range, he wanted to tweak the 37 first, or what he has taken to calling “generation II.” This April, after our boat-show sea trial, I caught up with him from his summer home in Vaasa. The ice had melted two weeks prior, allowing him watery passage. Viitala told me most of the waterborne travel in that region tends to be less than an hour long. “But the boat still needs to be able to handle the circumstances,” he said. “That’s why Scandinavian boats usually tend to be more functional than purely leisure [ones]. U.S. builders—Sea Ray, Bayliner, etc.—build boats that you go out to float on. With Axopar, we go from A to B efficiently, but we also create a space on board that can be used when you’re at anchor or when you’re at dock, or you just go out to have fun on.”

Like past models, the 37 is available in three different versions: Spyder, Sun-Top and XC Cross Cabin. While the XC offers a fully enclosed helm and seating area, the other two configurations have more of a wind-in-your-hair feel to them, offering a full-length roof with open sides (Sun-Top), or the complete dayboat experience (Spyder). According to Viitala, 98 percent of the parts have been completely redone, including the running surface, providing better tracking and fuel efficiency. Axopar has also optimized volume and accessibility wherever possible, including the addition of optional gullwing doors ($5,525) for three different access points to the cabin and forward berth. Together, these features equate to a pretty big departure. “For example, the cockpit on the 37 XC is still almost the same in centimeters, but it feels way bigger than its predecessor,” said Viitala.

Speaking of the cockpit, aft modules allow owners the ability to personalize their boat a step further. Our test boat was equipped with a wet bar, which included a sink, fridge and grill. But choices abound, including an aft sun pad, bench seating or additional berth. Or do away with the options entirely to create more space for fishing or water toys. For a company with such an emphasis on performance, Axopar certainly gives owners a lot of agency to tailor amenities to their lifestyle. And that’s just generation II.

On that note, look for the 22 to debut at Cannes later this year, with a 45 to come in 2021. Viitala says they want to offer options for boaters throughout their different stages in life. More than half of all Axopar customers have owned multiple boats in the past, but 15 percent of clients have never been boating before. “We have a lot of customers that boat first with Axopar and now maybe they are in 40-foot boats,” said Viitala. One assumes that the 22 will bring even more boaters into the sport.

Running image

Axopar 37 XC Cross Cabin Specifications:

LOA: 37’9”
Beam: 11’
Displ. (excluding engines): 8,311 lbs.
Draft: 2’9”
Fuel: 193 gal.
Price (approx.): $247,069

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