10 years of Axopar. History of the hull that revolutionized powerboats

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It is polar cold, perhaps even worse, in the United States. Newspapers talk about “Martian” temperatures from how freezing it is, and in Comertown, Montana there is a record: -53 (fifty-three!) degrees. It is January 2014. Soon thereafter, Russia will hold the Winter Olympic Games for the first time in its history, those in Soči, a center near the Georgian border. Let’s take a spatial leap north and go to the other side of the Russian border, 2,700 km away from the Olympic village. We are at the Helsinki Boat Show, one of the most beloved boat shows in the Nordic world. It’s cold there too with the thermometer touching -10 degrees, but something is happening in that glacial beginning of 2014 that is bound to change the summer of thousands and thousands of boaters forever. In fact, in that year, wandering around the fair you would have seen the very first 28-footer of a fledgling shipyard: Axopar.

The first ever Axopar 28 at the 2014 Helsinki Boat Show.
The first ever Axopar 28 at the 2014 Helsinki Boat Show.

Today, just 10 years later, the brand has celebrated specimen number 3,000 of that same Axopar 28 in its various declinations, to which can be added another 3,000 boats between 22 and 45, added to the range in the meantime. The total is easy: +6,000.

That February ten years ago marked the beginning of the “adventure boat” era, capable of so deeply marking the collective imagination and demands of boaters that it prompted a great many other manufacturers to adapt. After that disruptive success, in fact, there were so many reinterpretations, and all of them revolved in design and function around that philosophy. Today we can say it: ten years ago a new category of boat was born. Since 2020, however, Axopar’s motto leaves little room for doubt: “We are the adventure company.”

The first Axopar 28
The first Axopar 28

In short, a claim that paraphrased could be read “the originals are us, the others come later.” But it is Axopar’s own founder and front-man, Jan-Erik Viitala, who has reiterated on several occasions how the response of competitors to the commercial success of Axopar’s hulls is only an incentive to do better. Observe what is there and take the best of it to give light to something new. Axopar has been this from the beginning, and already in its name it brings together three Finnish powerboat brands for which Viitala had worked and from which he got important inspiration.

Why is it called AXOPAR?

A-XO-PAR are, indeed, the initials of Aquador, XO Boats and PARagon. These are the archetypes of the modern adventure boat that has led the company to become a “pop” brand, known all over the world, but also able to reach, with total sales, one billion euros in 10 years.

Axopar 29 XC Cross Cabin
Axopar 29 XC Cross Cabin

All crazy about Axopar

As early as 2015, however, one could already sense how the site had an edge. In September 2015, just 18 months after the launch, Axopar showed up at the Cannes Yachting Festival with more than 200 Axopar 28s produced. This model will continue to grind out awards one after another including a “Japan Boat of the Year” to symbolize an increasingly international success. Everything is going swimmingly, but a 28-footer, especially in today’s boating, alone is not enough. In addition, the Axopar 28 had one notable limitation: no possibility of installing a second cabin-a solution later introduced in 2024 with
the Axopar 29
, its heir.

There was, then, a need for a bigger boat:
the Axopar 37
. It is 2016, and here we have an initial watershed because later, even stylistically, the model to follow will become precisely the 37. In its size it becomes an absolute best-seller for several reasons: it is invitingly priced, it is powerful but easy to maneuver, and it allows the whole family to cruise while staying overnight on board, especially on the XC Cabin version. Even then, the yard was already relying heavily on storage space for water sports equipment as well as land sports. From the start, in fact, the Sun-Top and Cross Cabin versions were available with a roof rack option for transporting canoes, sup, bicycles.

Axopar 37 XC
Axopar 37 XC

“Axoparians,” as owners of an Axopar are called, are growing up in the world, and among them is a special one who buys just such a 37 as a tender for a larger yacht of his own: his name is Bodo Buschmann, and in 1977, at the age of 25, he had founded a tuning house with his friend Klaus Brackman. Out of the portmanteau of the two surnames had come this name: Brabus. The company in Bottrop, near Düsseldorf, Germany, has come a long way over the years to become world-famous in Mercedes tuning, but not only. Getting back to boats, it doesn’t take long for Bodo and his son Constantin to realize the potential of these hulls, and already at the 2017 Cannes Boat Show the newly formed Brabus Marine announced the BRABUS Shadow 800, based on the platforms of the Axopar 28 hulls. In April 2018, unfortunately, Bodo Buschmann passed away, and today it is Constantin at the helm of Brabus.


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“Brabus is not a tuning house, just as it is not a yacht yard,” Constantin Buschmann told Motor Boats in an interview, or rather, let’s say that’s not all it is: the formula that best sums up this reality is luxury mobility brand.”

From 28 to 45 feet, Brabus Marine are the ultimate in finish and speed. Even just the paint job takes a very long time to get to the Brabus level.

BRABUS Shadow 900 XC
BRABUS Shadow 900 XC

Today, in the 7- to 14-meter range, Axopar is a major player. After the 28 and 37, in fact, the newer Axopar 22 and Axopar 45 were also awarded by both the public and critics. The former is ideal as a first boat because it is small, agile and very easy to maneuver, but it can be equipped in an incredible number of ways to become a mini-platform for fun on the water. The second one, on the other hand, has all the makings, to be experienced as an XL weekender and, if desired, also to approach the world of cruising: sure, it is not a trawler, but with the right set-up it is perfect for tackling all kinds of adventures. Will Axopar’s next step be upward or downward? New models are certainly being studied, but in the meantime it is precisely the approach to boating that is changing, and those who produce hundreds of boats a year are quickly noticing this.

Jan Erik Viitala at Boot Dusseldorf 2020
Jan Erik Viitala at Boot Dusseldorf 2020

The rise of the sharing economy, especially among young people, is involving more and more sectors for a whole range of reasons, and boating is beginning to adapt: in fact, it is no coincidence that Axopar has signed a partnership with Agapi Boat Club to develop a whole series of centers around the world. The reason? You pay a fee and can go on the outings you want without having to buy and manage the boat, sharing it with a limited number of people. Will this be the future of boating? It is certainly a road, and if the “revelation” brand of the past decade has decided to follow it, it is definitely the case to pay attention to it.

Article by Gregorio Ferrari –
The complete piece in Motor Boats No. 36

 

 

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