Earlier in the season, we sampled the first of Axopar’s cutting-edge Euro sportboats to hit our shores – the Axopar 28 T-Top.
To say this craft is quick is an understatement. I should have got my pilot’s licence before the test because, at full speed with a monster 300hp Mercury Verado V6 on the transom, the T-Top felt like a low-flying missile.
Top speed is 45 knots (83km/h) and cruise speed is between 35 and 40 knots (65 to 74km/h), which comes effortlessly to this low-slung stealth craft. And I mean effortless, because occupants sit inside an aircraft-style cockpit with large, rally-style seats behind a high, raked windscreen that keeps out any annoying wisps of wind or spray.
There is an almost brutal efficiency about this Finnish flyer. Its low, angular lines and ‘axe’ bow are all about going fast and reducing water and wind drag. Europe is definitely setting the pace at the moment in sportboat design and this really shows in the Axopar 28 TT.
What you also soon appreciate when behind the wheel is the almost complete lack of noise at speed, thanks to the solid, double-skin fibreglass hull construction and smooth ride. The craft’s superiority is also evident in the lightness of the electric fly-by-wire throttle and steering – it’s a step above what you might have previously experienced when helming a speedboat and it’s fun to drive.
Not surprisingly, the manufacturer’s background is in performance race craft and this is evident in the 28 TT: it’s a super-fast, centre-console sportboat.
LIKE A RIB BUT BETTER
The concept is not unlike the latest RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) coming out of Europe. Indeed, Axopar is targeting this market, giving owners all the RIB benefits – including high stability and safety – but in a solid hull. And the 28 TT comes with a big rubber gunwale bumper rail, so it’s bump-proof without having all the maintenance issues you might have with air tubes.
Unlike many of the fishing-variety console craft, Axopar provides generous seating capacity. In the Baltic Sea, there are thousands of islands where affluent people like to have a fast sportboat to get to their island summer-holiday homes. It’s not quite the same here in Australia, but the Axopar would be an ideal dayboat, especially for those lucky enough to live on the Sydney or Gold Coast waterways. It’s the ideal boat to keep on the jetty should you want to take a quick spin, visit the yacht club or local waterfront café.
Axopar is pure Nordic quality from stem to stern, starting with the sturdy, double-skin, deep-vee hull with 22-degree transom deadrise. It’s an amazingly sophisticated craft with a series of sharp-edge lifting strakes on the bottom, plus two stepped, notch channels that reduce hydrodynamic drag and enhance fuel efficiency.
That vertical bow also has quite a blunt entry at deck level, giving it plenty of buoyancy to prevent bow-dip when running down-sea, while high bow pulpits make boarding over the bow easy for guests.
RAFT OF OPTIONS
At the time of writing, there were two versions of the Axopar: the 28 and a larger 37ft model that’s on its way here later in 2016. Both are outboard powered and ideally suited to dry-stack storage.
Our test version featured a covered T-Top plus two rows of seating that can be arranged in a face-to-face arrangement for social drinking and dining on deck. And for passenger convenience, there’s a nicely finished head discreetly incorporated into the front of the centre console.
Surprisingly, there’s a two-berth cabin tucked in behind the two rows of seats under a sunbed. It’s an optional feature for overnight stays – however, for fishing and sports-diving, you would opt for the standard open-deck version.
Yet another option is an enclosed wheelhouse over the helm position, which still has the walk-around deck. The five-seater cabin option with side door entrance would be the obvious choice for cooler-weather boating.
The test boat featured optional raised stainless steel handrails, which make sense for our Aussie waters, plus imitation teak cockpit flooring that’s not necessary but always nice to look at. There was also an optional forward lounge and removable dining table. You may not always require it, but it’s a great entertainment feature on summer days.
Axopar’s modular design allows owners to fine-tune the craft to their needs and reduce the price. While these Finnish boats are in the upper echelons of international boatbuilding, they’re surprisingly competitive on price – the base Axopar 28 TT starts at $108,122 and goes upwards of $195,967 as tested, which includes a hi-tech white Kevlar fabric bimini top. This package also included anti-fouling, an offshore safety pack (NSW) and electric bowthruster. The craft is also available with a 250hp or 200hp Mercury Verado, which trims the price while still retaining quite good speed.
Various levels of electronics can be added to suit your needs, be they fishing or night boating, and the helm dash has a cut-out slot for an iPad – we used this feature for obtaining speeds and for navigation, a pretty cool solution when using free downloadable software.
And finally, if you find the burnt orange upholstery a bit too ‘out there’, there are more sedate colour choices such as dark grey and beige. All textiles are of high-quality, hard-wearing Niroxx fabric. In addition to the white of our test boat, hull colour options are a cool grey or navy blue.
AXOPAR 28 T-TOP
Overall length: 8.99m
Hull Weight: 1690kg
Fuel capacity: 260lt
Power (as tested): 300hp Mercury Verado
Price from: $108,122
Price as tested: $195,967
Passenger capacity: 8 persons
More information: Eyachts, tel: (02) 9979 6612, NZ: (09) 413 9465. Web: eyachts.com.au.