Where do you go with your designs once a boat like the Marex 370 ACC scoops every award available? The answer, according to Espen Aalrud, owner of this renowned Norwegian boatyard, is to transfer some of the ACC’s core merits into a more popular and mainstream form of layout. After all, while plenty of people (me included) adore aft cabins for their vast wraparound panoramas, full-beam space and useful separation of sleeping areas, there are even more people who favour an open-air cockpit. It was something Espen already suspected, but when feedback from his established customers reaffirmed this truth, he set about designing a new 37-foot Marex sports cruiser that would put the emphasis firmly back on the above deck space.
The open cockpit
Plainly, as the open-cockpit variant, Marex’s new model needs to achieve good things with its aft deck and the 375 does exactly that. For a start, it enjoys a fairly generous footprint, with easy points of entry to the walkways on both sides, to the expansive swim platform down below and to the saloon via the double sliding doors. Although it’s a very open space, the use of a sliding overhead canopy, allied to foul weather partitions on runners, contained neatly behind fibreglass doors, makes it very easy to transform the entire alfresco cockpit into a fully enclosed space without any fuss or delay. See Alex Smith's First Look Video from the show.
The wraparound port dining station is equally well conceived. It offers seating for at least six people around a solid teak table with deep, beautifully trimmed cushions, and, because Espen believes (quite rightly) that people tend to prefer perching in corners, he has found a useful solution to that too. The transom gate has been treated to the same upholstered lining as the seat backs, which means that when you open it up and lock it in the 90-degree position, it creates a false bulkhead at the starboard side of the aft bench, enabling three of you, rather than the customary two, to inhabit a comfy corner position.
Elsewhere, Espen’s famed attention to detail finds pleasing expression in the integrated external rubbish bin and in the polished stainless steel cleats, which perch beneath the same teak-lined walkway lids that house the fender baskets. However, given that this boat is designed to maximise the space, comfort and usability of the aft cockpit, the most attractive feature is probably the shape of the mouldings aft of the transom. They incorporate a deliberate undercut to help optimise laminar airflow as the boat moves forwards. The point of this is to minimise areas of low pressure and pockets of turbulence, thereby eradicating backdrafts and fumes from the engines. I can’t verify how effective it is, as we haven’t yet tried her on the water, but given how intrusive fumes can be at low or displacement speeds, it could well prove to be a very welcome feature.
Gratifying attention to detail
The rest of the 375’s layout is actually quite standard fare. It features a second convertible port dining station in the saloon, plus a pair of double cabins (one transverse beneath the deck and one in the V of the bow). You also get a mini-lounge to port at the access point to the guest double, and a separate heads compartment to starboard. It all works very serviceably for a boat of this length – and given the absence of any alternative options, that’s just as well. But again, it’s not so much the layout of the 375 that warrants our attention, as the degree of quality and thoughtfulness on display...
For instance, the wood grain of every hatch, door and lid is matched exactly to that of its frame; and while solid teak is used for the external furniture, the internal spaces use robust wedges of steamed ash that feel even more luxurious. To port, the saloon dining station, which can be rigged to lift the berthing provision from four to six, uses a pair of swing-out seat pods to increase seating without obstructing the walkway, and the helm is equally impressive. The Skipper benefits from excellent visibility, courtesy of narrow stainless steel screen stanchions instead of fibreglass box sections; and the navigator gets a backrest that can be swung to face aft (automatically lowering the seat base to dining level) or swung to face forward (automatically elevating the seat base to the Skipper’s height in a bid to improve the view).
Oddly enough, however, the best conceived region of the entire boat is probably the engine room. It all starts with a hatch built from the same teak-lined 24mm marine ply as the rest of the deck, treated to lavish quantities of soundproofing and lifted with the utmost ease on a pair of powerful rams. It continues with the engines and electrics systems, which appear to have been installed with military-grade accuracy and cleanliness. And it is topped off by the fact that the 375 has been configured to employ pretty much any kind of inboard set-up you fancy. Whether you want single or twin rigs, petrol or diesel, shaft or sterndrive, this vast engine bay can incorporate it – and given that Espen intended this open cockpit model to expand Marex’s appeal to a much broader range of customers, that’s a very substantial bonus.
Before we even turned up at Marex’s show stand, we knew the 375 would be expensive; we knew it would be modestly styled; and, like most premium Nordic craft, we were aware that it was being built not in Norway but in Eastern Europe. However, notwithstanding these truths, it’s easy to see why the 375 has already been nominated for the European Powerboat of the Year and the 2016 Motorboat of the Year awards. Spend just half an hour on board, discussing the layouts, the materials and the design choices, and laying your hands on the hatches, seats and handles and you will find yourself truly enthused by how exhaustively considered and beautifully built this boat is. It’s by no means a showy or ostentatious piece of work, but with its fastidious approach and its unstinting commitment to quality, it has the power to make you feel very special indeed.
Marex 375 review: specifications
Power: single 400 - twin 300
Engines: Twin D4 300
Fuel capacity: 700 litres
Top speed: 37 knots
Seating capacity: 14
CE Category: B
For more power cruiser news and reviews, see the similar sized Galeon 365 HTS video or the more rugged Rodman 890 Ventura video.