BOAT REVIEW Saxdor 200 Pro Sport

April 2022 Power Boat Reviews
Words by Norman Holtzhausen, Photography and video by Roger Mills.
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Saxdor 200 Pro Sport
DESIGNER Sakari Mattila/J&J Design
BUILDER Saxdor Yachts
PRICE AS TESTED $105,000
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 5.94M
BEAM 2.29M
DISPLACEMENT 1100kg
ENGINE 1 x Mercury ProXS 175hp O/B
FUEL CAPACITY 110L
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Scores highly on fun factor
OBSERVATIONS
  • Stepped hull delivers astonishing performance
  • Acclaimed design pedigree

It is not often that we get to review a boat as innovative as this one, with features I have not so far experienced in New Zealand. So, when the call came in from Sport Marine’s Auckland office to review their new Saxdor 200 Pro Sport, a quick look at the specs revealed it was going to be different in terms of boat design and features.


Let’s start with the brand – Finnish company Saxdor Yachts is a newcomer to the market, having shipped the first model from their Polish shipyard in 2020. In the past two years they have grown to employ over 200 staff, built a worldwide dealer network covering 37 countries and won numerous industry awards. These include several Best of Boats awards in 2020, European Powerboat of the Year in 2021, and winning the Sportsboat category at the 2022 Motor Boat & Yachting awards for the 320 GTO model.
The range currently comprised nine different models, covering three different hull lengths. The boat we got to play with is the ‘baby’ Saxdor 200 Sport Pro, with a hull length of a touch under 6m (20 feet). The next size up is the Saxdor 320 with an overall length of 10.28m, and Sports Marine’s Mitchell Thompson says they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of these models in October. An even bigger Saxdor 400 is currently in R&D and should be available in 2023.

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Visually, the Saxdor 200 is different to just about any boat seen in New Zealand. The axe bow, open transom, space-age helm layout and eye-catching graphics certainly make it stand out from the crowd, but the less visible features are just as important. Under the water is a stepped hull which provided eye-popping performance and handling, while lightweight construction allows for amazing acceleration. Saxdor say they applied non-traditional thinking to the objective of creating “serious fun” when they designed the hull, and it is hard to fault this claim.
Let’s look at that stepped hull design in a bit more detail, since it is not a new concept but seldom seen on locally made boats. It basically comprises a series of ‘notches’ in the underside of the hull from the bow to the stern. Air is sucked under the hull at each of these steps, which has the effect of reducing the wetted surface area of the hull at speed, greatly reducing friction to improve top speed.
Poorly designed steps can result in reduced stability on the plane since sections of the hull are no longer supported by water. But thanks to modern CAD design tools, these issues have been largely eliminated, with the only remaining significant downside being the increased cost of designing and building hulls with these notches.


The cockpit design of the Saxdor is no less innovative, with a flat deck and completely open transom. At first glance it looks as if water would swamp the back of the cockpit, but we had no such problem and remained completely dry even when stopped. This makes the boat perfect for water sports, one of it’s obvious intended uses, but it is equally practical for fishing where access around the hull is important. The completely flat forward deck (which handily also comes with a set of squabs for sun lovers to lounge on) is similarly great for fishermen to stand on while working their lures or bait.
Hanging off the transom was a new 175hp Mercury Pro XS outboard, a V6 3.4 litre 24-valve engine with Smartcraft digital engine controls. Not only does it look the part, with its angular engine cowling and sharp graphics matching the futuristic styling of the boat, but the digital controls also mean that all engine monitoring functions can be fed through a smartphone app or compatible multifunction display. This motor has won numerous awards, including the NMMA Innovation award when it was launched at the Miami International Boat Show just four years ago.


This boat is configured as a centre console and the review boat had the optional hard top fitted. The helm position features two very comfortable, fully upholstered seats facing a space-age looking dash area. On the review boat there was just one instrument mounted in the fascia – a Simrad NSS9 evo3S touchscreen multifunction display. All the engine and fuel parameters, as well as the usual chartplotter and fishfinder data, are displayed through that single, black glass touch-display.
Factory-fitted trim tabs are controlled by means of a joystick, without doubt the most intuitive trim tab controller I have ever seen. Boat leaning to one side? Just push the joystick the way to you want the boat to tilt and it levels up. Want the bow up or down? Push the joystick forward or back. On the other side of the helm is a touch-button panel to control accessories and lights.


One criticism of the helm area is there is no level surface to place phones or keys, but this is mitigated by a pouch below the dash that holds these items safely and keeps them dry.
The front windscreen has another feature not often seen, with the toughened glass screen adjustable up or down to suit the speed and/or skipper’s preference. The underside of the hardtop is fabric lined, and the black painted aluminium hardtop support graphics are CNC cut-outs. Under the skipper’s seat unit is a dry storage area, while a second set of seats behind the helm seats provides space for a chilly bin underneath.


The cockpit deck has a watertight hatch cover, with a bilge pump below in case water does get through. A smaller locker in each gunwale provides storage for fenders etc, and those flat-topped gunwales are very comfortable to sit on. Since it’s a European boat, there are no rod holders fitted by the factory, but that can be easily remedied by Sports Marine if fishing is high on the agenda. A towing arch over the engine provides both a secure handhold when standing and a robust towing eye for water toys.
After completing the dockside examination, we headed out from Westhaven Marina. Very unusually, the boat had no issue with the 12-knot speed restriction inside the harbour. Most runabouts absolutely hate 12 knots, going up on the plane and then dropping off again, constantly battling to maintain that speed. But the stepped hull had no issues, and we could cruise along at what felt like a ridiculously slow speed without having to constantly play with the throttle. In fact, we could let go of both throttle and steering controls and the Saxdor rode straight as an arrow.


Once clear of the speed restriction at the other end of the inner harbour we could open the taps on the willing Mercury and were soon flying. And I mean flying – 45 knots came up easily, with bit more probably still untapped. Like all high-speed hulls, there is a danger of chine-walking at these air-assisted speeds, with the hull hopping from one side to the other. We had no issue with it in the good conditions, although if we had a chop coming from the front quarter, we might have had to back off the throttle a bit.
The 175hp engine is at the top end of the power rating for this hull, but a much more modest 100hp at the bottom end of the rating would in all probability still have provided more than adequate performance.
Looking at the pictures of the boat from the air, it looks like a long, thin arrow. However, the specifications do not lie, and her 2.29m beam is wider than those of some locally produced 6m aluminium boats. Certainly, she was very stable, both at speed and at rest. We had two adults standing on the same side in the stern of the boat, and not only was the deck level still above the waterline, heeling angle was never sufficient to cause concern. So that open transom was not an issue. We tried backing up, and while some water came in, it simply drained out smartly when we stopped or started to move forward again.


Playing around in the chop and jumping a couple of ferry wakes also proved interesting. Thanks to the 22.5-degree deadrise at the transom, the hull comfortably cleared some sizeable waves without lifting or crashing. Admittedly we could not find anything huge to crash through, but on the few occasions we went through bigger stuff we found that generally faster was better. Despite the axe bow, the nose is clear of the water when travelling at speed and there was no issue with the hull ‘checking’ as we went through waves.
The build quality is exceptional, as you would expect from a European production boat. Fuel consumption also speaks to the efficiency of the hull design – at over 30 knots we were achieving 1.21 nm/l, or just under 0.83 litres per nautical mile. This gives her 110-litre underfloor fuel tank a range of around 120 nautical miles at cruising speed, allowing for a 10% safety margin. Anyway, the Saxdor 200 Pro Sport is a day-boat, so the range is perfectly adequate range for most purposes.
So, did the Saxdor 200 Sport Pro live up to expectations? Absolutely!


The performance is astonishing, as is the handling and fuel consumption figures. Yes, the centre console, futuristic design and open transom might not be to everyone’s taste. Plus, she is set up mostly for family fun rather than as a fishing machine. However, that stylish appearance and sharp graphics package means she will be a head-turner wherever she goes.
Oh, and did I mention how much fun she is to drive?

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