This year, premium Finnish boat brand Axopar sidestepped the Palma International Boat Show and instead commandeered a large chunk of Port Calanova for its concurrent press, customer and dealer ‘days’. Alongside key collaborators BRABUS, Panerai and Jobe, they staged multiple world premieres and displayed 15 of their standout boats in the water. It was the biggest event Axopar had ever done outside of the traditional boat show format – and the gamble certainly paid off.
Rewind a decade, and co-founder Jan-Erik Viitala started working on the Axopar brand back in 2012. He shared a vision to create a completely new boat concept with head-turning design, competitive pricing, superior fuel efficiency and an exhilarating driving experience. First off the production line was the Axopar 28, which had its debut at the Helsinki International Boat Show in February 2014. With a twin-step deep-vee hull, a modular deck layout, and five versatile versions – the Open, T-Top, Sun-Top, Cabin and Sports Cabin – the 28 was an immediate hit. But nobody, not least Jan-Erik, could have predicted the considerable impact that Axopar would go on to have on popular boating culture.
Within months, the 28 was collecting awards like they were going out of fashion. First came Motorboat of the Year 2014 from Sweden’s Vi Båtägare (We Boaters) magazine, followed by a victory in the ‘Best for Fun’ category in Best of Boats 2015. It then picked up Motor Boat of The Year 2016 in the UK’s Motor Boat Awards and European Powerboat of the Year 2016 as judged by an expert panel of editors-in-chief from Europe’s top eight motorboat magazines. A little sister 24 and big sister 37 arrived in 2017, followed by a 22 in 2020 and a 25 (effectively replacing the discontinued 24) in 2021. And then, in 2022, before our very eyes at Port Calanova, the much-anticipated flagship: the 45.
Axopar may have strong Finnish heritage, but it is now most certainly a global company. Using ever-expanding manufacturing facilities in Poland, it has built more than 3,500 boats which are marketed through a 100-strong dealer network in more than 50 countries – in fact, 40% of production is delivered to North America. Axopar remains Europe’s fastest-growing boat brand, comfortably the biggest boat producer in the Nordic countries, and has featured in the Financial Times’ list of fastest growing companies in Europe – the FT 1000 – in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
But is this what success means to Jan-Erik? Chart-topping statistics? Perhaps it once was, but it’s unlikely to be true today. Now self-styling as The Adventure Company, Axopar has made a prominent pivot towards passion and purpose. And it’s a path that suits the bearded, baseball-cap-wearing Viking down to a tee. “We are The Adventure Company,” said Jan-Erik enthusiastically at the press launch. “We do something more than just produce powerboats, we change views and perceptions.”
In a Port Calanova presentation space peppered with mountain bikes, wakeboards, pop-up tents and kayaks, Jan-Erik spoke of his love of the great outdoors. He pointed out the synergy between Axopar and the venue, which was inaugurated by Spain’s King and Queen in 1976 as the National Sailing School. Both businesses were founded on the intention and desire to get people out on the water. Jan-Erik says his ‘Axopareans’ use their boats to explore, go on a voyage and experience the joy and freedom of adventure. His customers get close to nature, escape their daily routine, recharge, and create memories with their loved ones.
During his pitch, Jan-Erik quipped that his Axopar colleagues had coined a new word to unseat ‘downsize’ and ‘supersize’, and that word was ‘rightsize’. On that note, the covers were whipped off the all-new 45 XC Cross Cabin – the first ever 45-foot fully-enclosed cabin boat with outboards.
The culmination of a four-year project, the 45 boasts all the luxury and handling of larger more expensive yachts but without the heavy price tag or maintenance commitments. It’s also one of the most economical 45-footers on the market, able to cruise between 19 and 35 knots yet still remain within the most cost-effective fuel range. Standard features include gullwing doors, an electrically-operated canvas roof, and fold-out midship balconies. Axopar launched the cabin boat first (apparently it’s the hardest model to make) but it will eventually be part of a five-model range – Spyder, T-Top, Sun-Top, Cross Top and the Cross-Cabin – all built in a new 2,400m² production plant created just for the Axopar 45.
BRABUS CEO Constantin Buschmann was also on hand to reveal its latest ‘BRABUSized’ Axopar: the BRABUS Shadow 900 Deep Blue Signature Edition. The German tuning company originally worked with the Finns in 2018, launching the BRABUS Shadow 800 which was based on Axopar’s 37 Sun Top. Many BRABUS Shadow superboats have since followed, and BRABUS and BRABUS Marine are now an integral part of Axopar’s product development. Each Axopar is tested ready to be a BRABUS product and have core BRABUS values right from the drawing board. Constantin explained that it took four times more man hours to finish a BRABUS, to BRABUSize it and add the ‘one second wow factor’. With the ‘Deep Blue’, BRABUS had departed from the signature black and red corporate identity palette and opened up the colour spectrum.
And finally, Jobe took the floor to describe how they’d come to form an alliance with Axopar. Initially, the watersports brand had put together a collection for BRABUS – an impact vest, bodywarmer and matching SUP – and that inevitably brought them into contact with Axopar. Having realised that their DNA and values were a perfect fit, they decided to target young people already into watersports and make them a boat. Based upon the Axopar 22 Spyder – winner of Best of Boats Awards 2021 (‘Best for Beginners’), European Powerboat of the Year 2022 (‘up to 8 metres’), and the Motor Boat Awards 2022 (‘Sportsboats up to 30ft’) – the Axopar x Jobe Revolve was officially launched in 2020. Jobe’s best-selling teal/lime SUP sparked the colour scheme for the boat, and they co-created the features with Axopar. Clients can buy the boat, then mix and match the watersports products to go with.
Axopar is no longer a start-up company, but a grown-up company with authenticity and passion at its heart. While it’s unlikely that Axopar’s ‘rightsize’ will go any larger than 45 feet – at least not with outboard engines – rest assured that Jan-Erik, his design team, and his band of collaborators, are already working on the next chapter of The Axopar Adventure.