On Board the Axopar 45 XC

Axopar’s multitasking 45 XC is 48 knots of fun with flexible layout options.
Axopar 45 XC
The Axopar 45 XC’s hull steps give the boat lift, expediting its transition from getting on plane to top hop. Courtesy Axopar

What a shame that I had only an afternoon to play with Axopar’s new flagship, the 45 XC. When I first saw it the day before, the boat was tied to an outer pontoon at the Cannes Yachting Festival with a kayak and an electric mountain bike strapped to the coachroof rack, unwashed salt glistening in the early autumn sunshine. The 45 XC looked liked it had just returned from an epic voyage. These Finnish-designed crossover vessels look adventure-ready.

Outwardly, all Axopars share the same design cues: slightly reversed stems, a glimpse of hull steps at the waterline, high bulwarks and deep walkaround decks. On the bigger models, there are also cabins with an explorer-style, raked-forward windshield.

The XC in this model’s name stands for “cross cabin.” Think of a nautical multitool, and you will get the gist. Every cubic inch aboard has a function—or three. Stuff slides back and forth, glides up and down, and rotates this way and that way to meet all manner of guest demands.

For instance, when pushed forward, the 45 XC’s side-deck doors open up the after half of the cabin to the side decks, a feature that is made all the more interesting by fold-down bulwark sections that increase on-deck real estate and reinforce the connection with the sea beyond. With the addition of a couple of cushions, those fold-down surfaces become bench seats. Conversely, push those side doors back, and the bridge end of the cabin opens up. Moreover, a furniture module amidships can slide back and forth to maximize floor space forward or aft, while sunroofs above bathe the space in sunshine and fresh air.

The forward cuddy cabin, accessed via a sliding door to port of the helm and located down a few steps, has a lower salon with wraparound sofa seating and a V-berth tucked into the bow for overnights, long weekends or just rainy-day quiet time with a book. A head-shower compartment is to starboard. There is plenty of natural light, thanks to two windows and a skylight in the superstructure, which has sections that hinge up gull-wing-style to bring in more light and fresh air, as well as provide more access. With everything open, the 45 XC’s interior feels very different, making the forward cabin an inviting alternative during the day for those wanting shade and quietude.

Axopar 45 XC
The Axopar 45 XC’s hull form is designed to knife through choppy seas. Courtesy Axopar

Outside spaces are just as useful. There is a sun pad on the foredeck and various options for the cockpit, which comes bare as standard. The 45 XC that I got aboard has a U-shaped booth setup, but an alternative arrangement places a sun pad on top of the boat’s aft cabin that’s big enough for a second double berth and an extra head. The latter option also has a sizable window facing aft onto the motor casings and twin hatches that are otherwise hidden beneath the sun pad cushions.

The Axopar 45 XC is rigged for Mercury outboard power, and the one I got aboard came with the biggest available option: triple 300 hp Mercury Verados. Weather permitting, 900 heavy horses should deliver up to a cheek-flapping 48 knots comfortably. Frustratingly, during the early stages of my sea trial, we were bucking 3-plus-foot seas and a stiff southwesterly, so our best runs remained in the low-40-knot range for a long while until, by chance, we found a slightly calmer patch of water to push those ergonomically friendly throttles to the pins. A couple of reciprocal runs soon confirmed that the gloves could come off properly. From a standing start, the 45 XC was on plane in around 10 seconds, and just 20 seconds later, the boat managed a couple of reciprocal runs of 43 and 47 knots. The 45 XC that I was aboard was running a little under half load with two people, no stores, three-quarters fuel and a half-empty water tank.

Helm ergonomics are good, and the vessel’s handling is precise, although if the helmsman turns the wheel over too sharply, the 45 XC can oversteer, and those hull steps will momentarily lose their lift. Given suitable sea conditions, this crossover craft fast-cruises efficiently all day at around 28 knots, which equates to 5,000 rpm, or 80 percent of the engines’ maximum rev range. At that rate and allowing for a 10 percent fuel reserve, expect to get a 240-nautical-mile range between fuel stops. Nudge the speed up by 10 knots, and it will knock only around 50 nm off the cruising-speed range.

Most of the Axopar 45 XCs already sold for North American destinations are bound for South Florida, with options such as air conditioning, a wet bar and fishing amenities.

These crossover boats are indeed adventure-ready, no matter what type of at-sea adventure an owner has in mind.

The Range

The Axopar model lineup includes 11 models across five core hull sizes: 22, 25, 28, the best-selling 37 and, most recently, the flagship 45. If the standard offerings aren’t enough, German performance enhancer Brabus Marine has pimped-up versions of the 25, 28 and 38. They are billed as the Brabus Shadow 300s, 500s and 900s.

Design Origins

Axopars are built in Poland, but the creative team is Finnish. The concepts come from company founder Jan-Erik Viitala.

Take the next step: axopar.fi