The Sports Cabin adds an even more ex­cit­ing edge to the Axopar range. John Ford re­ports it’s the best of the Fin­nish range to hit our shores.

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Axopar 37 Sports Cabin

Axopar first hit the wa­ter in 2015 with the 28, which amazed with a strik­ing style and per­for­mance in keep­ing with its rad­i­cal looks. When the Trade-a-boat crew got our hands on one in Syd­ney Har­bour it was so im­pres­sive that we all wanted to take it home.

A boat­ing pub­lic hun­gry for some­thing dif­fer­ent quickly seized on the re­fined Fin­nish style and Axopar hit all tar­gets with some­thing ex­cit­ing and ex­clu­sive. The looks were dif­fer­ent, as was the per­for­mance, and the price tag re­tained ex­clu­siv­ity for well-off pun­ters with a moor­ing at their har­bour­side real es­tate. Axopar went out on a limb with the con­cept, but it has paid off in spades. Pro­duc­tion has more than dou­bled ev­ery 12 months, ramp­ing up to more than 1000 ex­am­ples be­ing launched this fis­cal year. In a rel­a­tively quiet pe­riod for im­ports, 75 have found a home lo­cally.

Over the last four years, the range has

ex­panded to in­clude the 37, with a mod­u­lar design that al­lows for three dif­fer­ent ver­sions.

The lat­est 37 Sports Cabin lay­out takes this flashy con­cept even fur­ther with a raked screen and a more com­pre­hen­sive list of stan­dard fea­tures.

Adding to the rad­i­cal im­age, our test boat flaunts a pair of 400 horse­power out­boards, push­ing it to more than 50 knots on a hull that slices rough wa­ter like the prover­bial hot knife through but­ter. Con­tribut­ing to this is a pur­pose­ful un­der­wa­ter shape fea­tur­ing a sharp en­try and a deep keel line de­signed to smoothly part the wa­ter for an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ride. Two hull steps op­ti­mise wa­ter flow, and a com­plex ar­range­ment of chines and run­ning strakes con­trib­ute to sta­bil­ity at rest for the rel­a­tively nar­row beam and deep 20-de­gree dead­rise at the tran­som. The un­usual un­der­wa­ter sur­faces and design can be seen when the boat is at speed and the first two me­ters of the hull ride clear in flat

“A pair of 400 horse­power out­boards push it to more than 50 knots on a hull that slices rough wa­ter like the prover­bial hot knife through but­ter.”

wa­ter. This dis­tinc­tive at­ti­tude sets the Axopar sta­ble apart, and de­spite their hefty price point, they have be­come a grow­ing force among day­boat­ing fleets around the coun­try – par­tic­u­larly in Syd­ney. Adding to the vis­ual ap­peal is an aware­ness that these are very prac­ti­cal and ver­sa­tile craft. Lo­cal im­porter, Pe­ter Hrones, tells me that some off­shore fish­ers have been drawn to the brand be­cause of their ex­tremely sea kindly ride and blis­ter­ing speed. Jour­neys to dis­tant hot bites can be ex­hil­a­rat­ing and quick, and widen the us­abil­ity of the 37 over many day­boats con­fined to a safe har­bour.

There's no hid­ing the stark lines of the 37, but the raked screen of the Sports Cabin soft­ens the boxy pro­file and firm an­gles of pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions, mak­ing it less like the boat­ing equiv­a­lent of a Land Rover De­fender than the Cabin ver­sion.

That said, the bat­tle­ship grey sides, prom­i­nent black rub­bing strip and side rails, which are part of the up­mar­ket Brabus trim pack­age, lend a men­ac­ing mil­i­tary pres­ence that might worry any­one caught un­awares by its sud­den ap­proach.

Nar­row side decks are pro­tected by the pow­der­coated rails con­nect­ing ex­te­rior spa­ces at each end. The ver­sa­tile bow caters for loung­ing on a vast sun­pad or din­ing at a ta­ble set be­tween the lounge and for­ward cush­ions on the an­chor locker. The huge cab­i­net makes a very prac­ti­cal walk-through for board­ing, and a mon­ster hatch in the front sec­tion of the sun­pad opens to load lug­gage and pro­vi­sions through to the for­ward cabin.

Down the back is a small cockpit for the more ac­tive pur­suits of fish­ing, swim­ming, and en­ter­tain­ing. The tran­som is an un­usual open setup with un­fet­tered ac­cess to the wa­ter ei­ther side of a pair of glim­mer­ing white 400 horse­power Mercury Ver­a­dos. With this sort of power in a four ton hull, this boat has some se­ri­ous get-up-and-go, so I could well imagine any­thing not firmly se­cured on deck could fly out the back on take-off. I no­ticed slots in the floor for a set of rails, and I think they would be a worth­while inclusion.

The 400 horse­power engines were fit­ted as a spe­cial one-off test plat­form for the fac­tory, and al­though they di­alled per­for­mance up a notch, the nor­mal max­i­mum of 350 is plenty.

There is a va­ri­ety of cockpit lay­outs in­clud­ing a rear cabin, but the re­view boat has a sen­si­ble day boat­ing op­tion of a wet bar with big chest fridge and a sink, with room along­side for a small BBQ. The cabin roof line ex­tends over the wet bar, but be­cause it is quite low, the end sec­tion hinges up out of the way on gas struts to give plenty of room to pre­pare food.

Huge side lock­ers are in­su­lated for use as cool­ers or kill tanks, and there are lots of stor­age op­tions in spa­ces un­der the cockpit sole. Neat touches here in­clude a well-con­cealed tele­scopic shower head on the port coam­ing and a re­tractable ladder un­der the port swim­plat­form.

You will also no­tice in the pho­tos that all con­trols and lines to the engines are lo­cated safely and neatly out of harm's way.

A min­i­mal­ist Nordic chic per­me­ates the in­te­rior with slate grey Niroxx cover­ing on lounges, the elec­tric roof and dash, but there's enough real wal­nut trim for a nau­ti­cal vibe.

With a big open­ing roof, slid­ing win­dows and doors each side, the cabin can be as open or as cosy as you like, de­pend­ing on the weather, so the boat is just as suit­able for our south­ern wa­ters as it is for the trop­ics. Win­dows all around of­fer un­re­stricted views, and there is plenty of head­room and space to move around eas­ily.

An L-shaped lounge at the rear of the cabin has seat­ing for five around an ex­tend­able tim­ber ta­ble, with two ex­tra seats made avail­able by re­vers­ing the helm chairs. The ta­ble drops to make a full-width daybed or oc­ca­sional overnight sleep­ing for guests.

A hatch to port of the helm leads down to the for­ward cabin with lots of light from ports to the side and up front ahead of a dou­ble bed. Head height over the bed is re­stricted by the ceil­ing that slopes down to­wards the bow, but there is plenty of room in the main sec­tion, where there's a Jab­sco elec­tric toi­let with pri­vacy cur­tain, hand basin and a small wardrobe.

The helm has a mod­ern, per­for­mance-boat feel with per­fectly stitched non-re­flec­tive Niroxx trim on the well ap­pointed dash. Ad­justable an­gle for the wheel and a slid­ing bol­ster chair with arm­rests will let most skip­pers find a com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion, and I no­ticed the view was un­re­stricted at all an­gles, even when turn­ing sharply at speed.

Two 12-inch Garmin screens for sounder, GPS and radar, a 7-inch Ves­selview en­gine mon­i­tor, joy­stick trim con­trol and Side-power thruster meant the test boat was equipped to han­dle any­thing, while mak­ing the op­er­a­tion as easy as pos­si­ble.

At low speeds, there was vir­tu­ally no en­gine noise in the en­closed cabin. Cruis­ing at any­thing up to 25 knots was a pleas­antly quiet and a soft ride over the reg­u­lar Syd­ney Har­bour chop as we headed to­wards the Heads be­fore giv­ing the Ver­a­dos a more spir­ited run.

A pro­vi­sion of 800 horses on a light­weight hull should be a per­for­mance pack­age that thrills, so we were pretty happy to reach 50 knots from 17-inch pro­pel­lers al­though Pe­ter Hrones ex­pects even more once the Mer­curys have run up a few hours run­ning time. He also pre­dicted up to 58

knots with 19-inch props. We turned around to face a 20-knot west­erly whip­ping down the chan­nel and even into such a breeze at full noise the boat felt well bal­anced, safe and pre­dictable.

Even though the wind whipped up a nasty short chop, the Axopar turned with­out hes­i­ta­tion and with­out any shud­der­ing or wal­low­ing.

It's hard not to be im­pressed with the ride, han­dling and per­for­mance of the Sports Cabin, all con­tribut­ing to make it ex­tremely en­joy­able and safe to drive. Throw in the dra­matic looks and ver­sa­tile us­abil­ity, and you have a real win­ner.

But at $458,000, as tested, it might look like an ex­pen­sive toy. It's only when you get to know it a lit­tle bet­ter that you re­alise its more than a play­thing re­stricted to hooning around the har­bour.

Sure, it does the har­bour day­boat thing with­out rais­ing a sweat, and the fam­ily will love spend­ing time on board. But point it to­wards the hori­zon and it'll eat up the miles to your favourite bolt­hole for the week­end.

Ev­ery time I have driven an Axopar, it has been ex­cit­ing and en­joy­able. It's hardly sur­pris­ing that it took the Finns to re­mind us of the plea­sure to be had sim­ply “mess­ing around in boats.”.

“It’s hard not to be im­pressed with the ride, han­dling and per­for­mance of the Sports Cabin”

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE Wide ex­panses of glass and slid­ing pan­els pro­vide both vis­i­bil­ity and great air­flow; The strik­ing na­ture of the up­right Sports Cabin makes a dis­tinc­tive pro­file; An un­usual hull design be­comes ap­par­ent when viewed from front on.

ABOVE 800 horses pro­vide plenty of punch and there’s mas­sive stor­age spa­ces aft. BELOW The hard­top roof folds up over the wet­bar for in­creased headspace.

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE En­closed cabin makes for a cosy in­te­rior space; A day­head is ac­cessed via the down­stairs cabin; The dou­ble cabin means ex­tended voy­ag­ing is pos­si­ble.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Off­shore chop was no match for the Axopar hull; This model is ev­ery bit the se­date day­boat on en­closed wa­ters; Stark Fin­nish design meets warm wal­nut tim­ber at the helm.

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