The series' design hallmark—the fold-down transom—creates a teak-clad beach club that's unrivaled in a vessel of this size.
The trailblazing trio that is the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Great Pyramids at Giza. A BLT sandwich. Amazing things do indeed come in threes.
In various incarnations, the number three was a reoccurring theme during my time with the Zeelander Z72. I recently joined U.S. factory rep John Slate and mate Finn Boynton with plans for the three of us to make the 64-mile trip to Nantucket from Newport. The third vessel of the Dutch-built fleet that includes the Z44 and Z55, the Z72 was bound for owners who summer on the island; naturally, this will be their third Zeelander.
As Boynton prepped the boat, I spied the mechanicals while they were still cool. The excellent use of machinery space over 66 feet was immediately apparent. (The Z72 is 66 feet, 5 inches with the swim platform closed and 72 feet, 4 inches with the beach club deployed.) These areas often play second fiddle to above- and belowdecks offerings; not on the Z72. I raised the electrically actuated hatch for access to the mains and came face to face with the trio of over 16,000 pounds of Swedish iron. The largest offerings from Volvo Penta, the 12.8L, D13 engines matched to IPS drives give the vessel 3,000 horses to play with.
Gallery: Zeelander Z72
While headroom wasn’t great outboard of the powerplants, there was plenty of space between the engines; the big blocks had some shoulder room with good access forward to the two gensets and the largest gyrostabilizer from Quick. The latter was chosen by Slate over a Seakeeper for its smaller footprint and air-cooled setup, thus obviating a need for another through-hull.
Her tender garage was also roomy and well-executed. Served by a starboard-side hatch, the compartment held a nearly 11-foot Williams RIB and four Seabobs with room left for a few SUPs. If one chooses to jettison the port-side, en suite crew’s quarters, the garage can extend to full beam and house an even-larger RIB as well as a PWC. “A tender hanging off the back, that’s just ugly. The [garage] is integral to the design,” Slate said and added that it keeps her beach club unfettered. As I stood to close the access hatch to the garage, I had to agree. It also preserves her gorgeous sheer.
Like her sisterships, the Z72’s brand language is inspired from the elegant commuter yachts of yesteryear, with long, graceful sheers, gleaming brightwork and raked transoms. For the flagship, the Dutch builder felt it needed to push the styling envelope. “The Z72 … is an evolution of the Z44’s and Z55’s design,” said Zeelander Marketing Director Floris Koopmans when we spoke a few months before the launch. “We looked to make [the 72] more streamlined and to evolve [our] iconic look [for] an evolution of timeless design.”
Koopmans compared the 72 to the two-seat Porsche 911 as an example of how a classic design can become more aggressive, as the brief calls for a larger footprint yet stays within the realms of its predecessor. Koopmans also mentioned that her design is inspired by military vessels—evident in her utilitarian profile, high bow and industrial-style vertical vents.
After spending several hours on board the 72 I would respectfully amend his assessment in two ways. Her seductive curves easily outshine the serviceable traits of a military vessel. And with the level of refinement she showed as a performer replete with commodious amenities—her (you guessed it) three staterooms are en suite, with a king-sized berth in the master and queens in two VIPs—she’s more of a grand tourer.
A trope of this business is to dub a boat a “mini superyacht,” but as Bob Marley sang, “Who the cap fits, let them wear it.” The 72 is roughly double the size of the 55 in volume and it looks to utilize this space for superyacht-level features. The series’ design hallmark—the fold-down transom—creates a teak-clad beach club that’s unrivaled in a vessel of this size. When opened, a large sunpad is framed by stairs on three sides leading to the area that’ll easily hold a trio of chaise lounges, an ideal perch to watch the kids or as a launching pad into the sea. While Hull No. 1 was built without it, a jacuzzi can be installed below the sunpad, its cushions serving as a cover when not in use.
From here, the party continues to the aft deck’s quartet of bar stools where I’d spend most of my time when not at the helm. The area is protected by the hardtop overhang and served by the salon’s aft galley via the huge, electrically retractable window. In concert with the salon door tucked in its pocket and the massive moonroof retracted, the aft deck and salon are at once open, spacious and airy. “[These features] give the Z72 the appeal of a cabriolet without its limitations,” said Koopmans.
And just about everywhere—the bar area on the aft deck, setting off the light, airy salon, adorning the communications dome and the tasteful, gentle curve of the companionway leading belowdecks—you’ll find gleaming, varnished wood. Or so I thought, until I learned that it’s painted fiberglass. Executed so flawlessly with the “perfect-imperfect” qualities of something that was once living, I had a hard time believing it. Essentially maintenance-free, I welcome it.
Leaving Newport and onto a foggy Atlantic, Slate, Boynton and I stood at the triple helm seat, leaned into the bolsters and kept eyes out for other vessels and the buoys that marked the area’s many lobster pots. Sightlines were excellent, unfettered to port and starboard via huge windows and a single-piece, forward-facing windshield that spanned nearly 12 feet across. We were able to easily spot commercial vessels and smaller sail- and fishboats that seemed to materialize out the mist. If visibility deteriorated, I was glad to have three Garmin MFDs at our disposal to track what we couldn’t see. One more item of note: the settee that serves the dining table aft of the helm is raised so that passengers enjoy the same level of visibility as those at the helm.
Once we entered Vineyard Sound and visibility started to improve, I ran the 72 at an average cruise just over 33 knots at 2000 rpm, welcoming the bevy of lobster pots to maneuver the athletic performer through. From a standstill, she had very little bowrise, hopping onto plane fast on her way to an average top speed just shy of 40 knots and 2350 rpm. With a full load of fuel and water and 50 rpm below the rated 2400 max, I’d wager she’d see a few more knots once her props are dialed in. The 72’s soundproofing and insulation has been upgraded from the Z55 and does its job well: I registered decibel readings in the low 70s throughout the rpm range, even with the sunroof slightly open.
A last-minute change of plans had me disembarking at Hyannis and as we awaited our temporary quay, the DPS held us firmly in place against current and wind. Once we secured our berth, Slate backed the 72 down and into her slip via joystick with ease, one reason of many that Zeelander chose Volvo Penta IPS drives to power all of their vessels.
As we planned to go separate ways, we took a last collective look at the Z72. “This boat is more modern than the 55,” Slate said, and I concurred with a nod. Her throwback looks belie a thoroughly modern vessel, ready to transport a large group of revelers at a fine turn of speed in near-silent, absolute comfort, enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And isn’t that what time on the water is all about?
Zeelander Z72 Test Report:
Zeelander Z72 Specifications:
Displ.: 99,000 lbs.
Fuel: 1,400 gal.
Water: 50 gal.
Test Power: 3/1,000-hp Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350s
Base Price: $3.9 million