Whole new ball game…

Set aside your assumptions and expectations for a few minutes while we try to describe the new Axopar 37 XC that made its American debut at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show. This boat represents a whole new ball game in terms of design, performance, seakeeping and functionality. In fact, I’d say it takes a ‘clean sheet of paper’ approach to boating – it’s that different.

The Axopar 37 XC was featured in the Mercury Marine demonstration area at the Miami show and there was a long line of people who were keen to get a ride, so our apologies to them. We took the boat over just for Canadian Yachting magazine and with it came more than an hour of Jan-Erik Viitala’s time.

Jan-Erik Viitala is one of the two co-founders and majority shareholders of Axopar. Jan-Erik’s title is ‘Creative and Innovations Director’. He is Finnish, his English is perfect and his fresh approach to boat design is remarkable. His title seems quite appropriate!

The Cabin ViewThis is the cabin view looking forward from the entrance to the saloon. Notice the overhead glass and port and starboard side gullwing doors.

The Axopar 37 XC is a radical-looking design but it is a ‘form follows function’ approach. Jan-Erik’s inspiration is to have the safest and best handling boats by capturing many of the design virtues of rigid hull inflatables. But he asked himself the question; how can you build a RIB without the tubes? The answer is that they have put a second chine on the Axopar hull giving secondary lift the way a RIB gets lift from its tubes. As the waves get bigger, the second chine helps to lift and move the balance forward.

First though, let’s talk about the actual layout and features because this boat redefines how you might go boating in the future.

The Axopar 37 XC (standing for Crossover) has an attractive and useful cabin area that is divided into two main sections. There is the forward cabin that is a comfortable sitting height and then there is what I will call the saloon that includes the helm, passenger seating and dining space.

I felt that the Axopar’s design emphasis was on exterior space and overall versatility, but the interior spaces blend together to support that.

The HelmThe helm is handsomely appointed and very functional. The Mercury control box was comfortable to use and the big Simrad screens convey all the information you need at a glance. Notice how few visual obstructions there are. The sightlines are great!

The swim platform is divided for the twin Mercury Verado 300 hp V8 outboards and it has ample deck space for swimming or diving. There is a port side boarding ladder and the platforms are down close to the water.

Other than a small step down into the cockpit, the deck is all one level and you can walk all the way around the cabins. Very big sliding doors to the saloon port and starboard open that up and the side decks are thigh-high for security and topped with black-finished rails all around. The test boat also had a black-finished tow rig over the engines that looks substantial. There are matching roof rails where you can mount things like a bicycle or a kayak, and grab rails mounted under the cabin roof overhang.

The cockpit is a generous size and there are big storage compartments in the side decks and under the floor. Jan-Erik emphasized the modular design that offers significant variations in equipment and functionality. The test boat had the optional wet bar module in the cockpit with sink, built-in refrigerator / freezer and large storage spaces. Some other choices are the aft cabin module with sleeping accommodation for two or the standard open deck version for fishing or adventure cruising.

We found three comfortable, fold-up stern seats across the transom and our test boat was finished in SeaDeck cushioned decking that is non-skid and soft on bare feet. As you move to the bow, you find a forward-facing bench seat and a bow cushion over the anchor locker. The test boat had a power windlass, a bow mount for a table and speakers for the sound system.

Interior SeatingThe interior seating is comfortable and functional. The helm seats can be turned around to join the dining table. Abundant glass areas make this boat very bright.

Given the long, low profile of the Axopar 37 XC, you will be surprised at the cabin space and accommodations. The first thing you would notice are the unique gullwing cabin doors. These open upward with gas strut assist and you can literally step down into the cabin onto a wooden step on either side. There is considerable height down the centreline. Overhead glass gives this cabin an open feel and the cabin includes a queen vee berth, seating for three or four and there is a vessel sink in a vanity on the port side. To starboard the seat base lifts to reveal the toilet. Think of this as a big cuddy cabin layout. A hatch on the port side of the bulkhead lifts up on struts and you can step back into the saloon area.

The High Side Decks and RailsThe high side decks and rails make it very comfortable to around the Axopar 37 XC.

The saloon is the main living space and is laid out with the helm and companion seats on the starboard side. Aft of that is a height adjustable table and L-shaped seating that stretches across the aft bulkhead. There is storage under the seats and a galley and propane stove are optional. The test boat had an Isotherm drawer refrigerator under the helm seat pedestal.

The dinette converts to a double berth, but you will need to order curtains. The Axopar 37 XC has vast side windows and narrow roof mullions to give it nearly 360 degrees of outward view. One of the best features is the sliding canvas roof. Open just a little, the whole roof, or anything in between. The window and seat heights mean everyone can sit and see forward as they go.

This is a driver’s boat. The helm is standing height, spacious and attractive with a tilt steering wheel and panoramic reversed windshield that is shaded by the roof. This will make driving for a long trip comfortable and easy on the eyes. The dashboard is attractive with two big Simrad screens behind a single glass panel, a grippy, thick rim steering wheel and Mercury controls mounted on the dash. This gives you a good place to rest your hand in rough water. There are arm rests, flip-up seat bolsters and a big, sturdy footrest. A large pocket offers a proper place for big paper charts – just what an adventure yacht needs.

There is also a Mercury Vessel View display, a row of lit switches and controls for the bow thruster – a useful addition to the Mercury Joystick Docking system given the length of the boat.

The trim tabs are not normally needed, but you can use them to level the boat side to side or help to deal with really rough water. The boat has a 20-degree deadrise V at the transom. The bow seems very long and low, but it’s actually quite light and rides high. The plumb bow shape seems to help it glide up and over the waves. Maybe the way the Mercury V8 Verado 300s are rigged and mounted helps. They run small brackets to set the engines back a little for best performance. Jan-Erik, is relentlessness about fine tuning and making adjustments to achieve improvements in the boat.

Jan-Erik ViitalaJan-Erik Viitala, Axopar founder/owner and ‘Creative and Innovations Director’ was onboard for our review to give us all the details.


Driveability and handling were the priorities for Jan-Erik Viitala and the performance was impressive. There were many other big powerboats being demonstrated at the Miami Boat Show and the bay was really chopped up, yet the Axopar was unperturbed. With hands off the wheel we crossed the wake of a big sportfisherman and the Axopar simply rode over, tracked true and just kept on going.

The boat feels like it’s really “planted” at the stern and you can throw it into a high-speed turn with confidence. The twin Mercury V8 Verado 300 hp engines are a perfect match here. They deliver effortless speed to the top end of 56.2 mph; that’s flying for a 37-footer! Acceleration from zero to plane is very hard to measure; the bow never rises. The two-step hull design just goes forward, you never lose sight of the horizon. Zero to 20 mph takes a mere 5 seconds.
We found the most economical cruising speed was about 4,000 rpm doing 36.8 mph and getting 1.8 miles per gallon; impressive for a 37-foot boat!

This could be a day boat, an overnight camper, a comfortable cruiser for a couple or young family, a dive boat, or a fishing partner. You can beach it and a bow-mounted boarding ladder is in development. Jan-Erik Vitala will continue to develop this highly original design. It delivers stellar performance while the capabilities and accommodations allow you to re-define your own boating interests. Like we said at the beginning, it’s a whole new ball game…


ENGINES: Twin Mercury V8 Verado 300, 300 hp, 4.6 litre / 279 ci displacement dual overhead cam 32 valve V8. Stainless-steel props.

1,000 5.5
1,500 8.1
2,000 9.9
2,500 14.2
3,000 20.8
3,500 29.6
4,000 36.8
4,500 41.5
5,000 46.2
5,500 51.2
6,000 56.2

Overall Length (excl. Engine): 11,50 m /37’9”
Beam: 3,35 m / 10’11”
Hull weight (excl. Engine): 3,770 kg / 8,311 lbs
Berths: 2 persons (with optional aft cabin 2+2)
Fuel capacity: 730 l / 193 gal
Classification: B – Offshore, C – Coastal
Hull design: Twin stepped 20 degree V
Price (well-equipped): approximately $260,000 USD

Boat supplied by Axopar, Pricing supplied by The Boat Warehouse,

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