Nordic noir

Axopar spearheaded the explosion in the sport dayboat segment and has spawned a raft of near copies. Even so, does the Axopar 37 Sun-Top maintain and improve on what’s been a winning formula so far?

Written by Scott Alle

01 April 2024


When you create a game-changing design, and you do it really well, there are bound to be imitators.

When Axopar first hit the market in 2014 with the Axopar 28, its distinctive, rugged styling and strong performance made a big impression. Axopars quickly became a phenomenon, and export sales mushroomed.

Now, there are dozens of Axopar lookalikes and spin-offs. Thankfully, the pioneering Finnish adventure dayboat builder has remained focused on the brand’s core strengths, as articulated by Axopar co-founder Jan-Erik Viitala.

“We started without compromising the hull,” he says when asked about Axopar’s design ethos. “We then added all the other accessories.

“Other manufacturers build the other way, starting with how many people need to be on the boat and going from there.”

That unwavering commitment to hull integrity and efficiency is immediately apparent when I open up the 37 Sun-Top on a sparkling Sydney Harbour.


The transition to planing is so smooth, it’s barely noticeable. The speed climbs quickly and deceptively – 25 knots, effortlessly past 35 knots to 45 knots. It’s ridiculous, really, just how easy it is. What’s more, it takes just a few down-flicks of the joystick trim control and the boat continues tracking dead true and straight.

We’re flying over the water on a cushion of air created by the double-step hull, and I feel I could take my hands completely off the steering wheel, which is stylish and hand-stitched.

I resist the temptation as the Simrad helm displays spit out the confirmation: 46.9 knots with the twin Mercury 350 hp Verados singing at 5,800 rpm, consuming 120 litres an hour each.

According to my host for the day – industry stalwart and Eyachts founder Peter Hrones – this particular 37 Sun-Top will hit the magic 50 with a quick hull clean, something he recommends undertaking regularly to ensure this impressively versatile vessel continues to do what it does best.

Axopar unashamedly admits it devotes a lot of time to research and development, particularly hydrodynamic modelling and computational fluid design (CFD) simulations by their design partner Aivan.

The commendable result in the 37 Sun-Top is a sharp-entry reverse bow that slices easily through waves and chop. A series of chines running from the bow deflect spray – blasting out through Sydney Heads at 35 knots, the toughened glass windscreen barely registered a drop of water.

That two-step hull design has V-shaped channels that suck air under the hull and create a layer of bubbles, reducing surface tension and leading to a smoother ride and efficient motion in any seaway, along with quiet mid-range cruising. The main chine is stepped near the bow, plus there are multiple strakes.

This 37 is a Series 2, which came out in 2020 after exhaustive analysis and feedback from Axopar clients. More time was spent developing the hull shape of this 37 Sun-Top than on the original, the multiple-award-winning 37 – testament to how difficult it was to improve on the original. In the end, there were 380 changes between the two versions.

Some of the tweaks are spectacular and obvious, such as the gull-wing doors for access to the main bow cabin, enhancing light and ventilation. Others, such as the redesigned lockers with drains, are more subtle, but all add up to maximum enjoyment on the water with minimum fuss.

Off the secluded Store Beach, we undo the latch securing the anchor and drop the pick via the remote windlass control to fully appreciate the 37 Sun-Top in relaxed entertainer mode. We grab a drink from one of the three fridges in the outdoor galley that houses a sink and grill as well, and relax back into the diamond-stitched sports seats around the very nicely finished extendable GRP table.

Underway, the table folds up securely, then at anchor it can host seven guests as the three forward-facing helm seats rotate and slide apart under the black T-Top (the colour is the Brabus Trim package option), which provides ample shade. You can also roll back the canvas roof to let the sun pour in.

The inviting space on deck, specifically its multiple functions, is the second plank in Axopar’s global success.

Each boat can be configured to the customer’s individual requirements thanks to modular design components. The aft deck of the 37 Sun-Top and the topless Spyder version is offered with no fewer than four layout options: standard open with aft-facing bench seat; optional wet bar; sun bed with multi-storage compartment; or sun bed with aft cabin.

Our test boat had the open aft deck leading from the swim platform and came with cool Brabus branding, which included black rub-rails, handrails and nice tactile touches like a handy suede document pocket on the steering console.

Large stern lockers took care of fenders and mooring ropes, the port one containing a pull-out shower to rinse off, and the starboard one can convert to a live bait tank.

There’s a tow arch for water sports fun, and roof racks can carry an arsenal of adventure sports equipment – SUPs, mountain bikes, surfboards and kayaks. The Nordic types seem to favour using the water to access their favourite ski run, while the Axopars that regularly traverse Pittwater (where I live) take full advantage of the ability to reach remote spots at national parks, which are much more accessible by sea, and carry an interesting variety of sports equipment.

Even though the stylish bow cabin with its queen berth and separate electric flush head isn’t really designed for extended stays away from port, it’s perfectly comfortable for a night or two anchored off a secluded beach or in a pristine bay.

With the Axopar, though, you’ll want to be on deck as much as possible because of its brilliant functionality. The non-slip side decks are deep and protected as you walk forward from the helm to the bow lounge with backrest. Shade awnings can extend over the bow and stern, and at night there are thoughtful inclusions like lights mounted in the helm and cockpit soles.

I also had a chance to look over the XC (Cross Cabin) version of the 37, which Axopar likens to its SUV of the water. Again, the emphasis is on deck functionality – a fully retractable roof and wide sliding doors open up to the cockpit. Obviously, the fully enclosable saloon and helm make it a better option for harsher environments such as Tassie or Auckland, but you can also still enjoy the best aspects of alfresco dayboating.

When it’s time to pull the pin and head back before the weather really turns, then all the salient features of the Axopar hull shared with the Sun-Top and the Spyder mean you get there quickly and safely, with the bonus of being warm and dry.

Eyachts has sold over 100 of the 37s, and it’s not hard to work out why.

They are simple to operate and seamlessly switch between multiple uses, from stylish entertaining to zipping out to a beach for lunch, and from fishing to water sports. If that flexibility isn’t enough, they also have the benefit of being low maintenance.

Technology and its integration are a big part of Axopar’s success too. The company has collaborated closely with Mercury, and the 37 utilises Mercury’s Vessel View onboard management system, while Simrad developed the glass bridge multi-functional displays exclusively for Axopar, with features more usually found on superyachts.

The boat’s solid hull and engineering underpinnings are matched by a sophistication of trim and fit-out that complete a package in the 37 that reflects Axopar’s startling trajectory. It’s incredible to see where the brand has got in just under a decade, but it’s not hard to see why it will continue to set the bar for some time to come.



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