This distinctive runabout is said to combine classic Mediterranean style with Dutch engineering and German efficiency – Alex Smith puts the Keizer 42 to the test
The Keizer 42 is not the type of boat you’d normally associate with Dutch boat building. It’s made out of GRP rather than steel for starters and its classic open styling with polished mahogany transom and near-vertical bow looks more suited to Mediterranean blasting than pottering along North European waterways.
In fact, Siep Keizer, the Dutch founder of Keizer Yachts, says he wanted to combine the style and performance of a classic open runabout with the generous internal spaces, practical design and relative affordability of a factory-built sportscruiser.
It also needed to be a boat that could handle a rough sea, deliver a user-friendly driving experience and return fuel flow figures that would provide far more affordable and sustainable sport than you’d expect from a fast open sportscruiser.
In pursuit of those goals, Keizer enlisted the help of some major players. Design and naval architecture were undertaken by Dutch Studio, Vripack; and in a bid to leverage the yard’s industrial efficiencies, construction was handed over to German builder, Bavaria.
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Fun in the sun
Siep’s decisions appear to have borne fruit. Even alongside boats costing twice as much, the Keizer 42 has the look of a premium craft from the drawing board of a superyacht tender specialist, and when you step on board, that impression persists.
The cockpit features a large single-level space, with a seating arrangement optimised for social interaction and Mediterranean-style lounging. There’s an L-shaped galley to starboard, which backs onto the two-man helm seat and a large six-man dining station to port, which butts up against the reversible two-man co-pilot seat.
Aft of that, an enormous sunbathing platform above the engine bay offers big storage, as well as removable backrests to provide both forward and aft-facing loungers.
A staggered walkway creates an easy flow of traffic through these zones and, when you get down below, the space and simplicity of the open-plan approach again feels very satisfying.
The main double berth in the V of the bow is left entirely open to the central lounge and, despite very little in the way of hull windows, the sense of space and light is very striking.
In addition to a convertible bench at the foot of the bed, a large bench to starboard and a wet-room to port, there’s a full-beam twin cabin beneath the cockpit sole.
But while it occupies a large footprint, limited headroom and fixed beds make it better suited to occasional guests than committed family cruisers.
As for the fit and finish, it’s too pared back to feel especially opulent but it does feel bright, modern and well built. In fact, the only issues in need of further consideration involve minor items like the sliding cabin door, which is prone to rattling, and the magnetic catch for the cockpit fridge, which was showing signs of oxidation.
The easy-rig cockpit canopy, which is stowed around the upper edge of the screen, could also do with a dedicated compartment to keep it tidy. And not everyone will be comfortable with the lack of guardrails round the foredeck.
There’s no doubt that the modern trend for clutter-free, automotive-style simplicity generates some lovely looking boats, but it would be worth taking advantage of Keizer’s custom-friendly approach and adding a proper bow rail to the package.
Flat and fast
The first indication of the Keizer 42’s promised cruising efficiency can be found in its transition onto the plane. It stays very flat indeed, at no point obscuring your forward view of the horizon, and that also helps mitigate the upsurge in fuel flow that tends to accompany a boat as it rears over the hump. Once on the plane, the cruising credentials of the 42 also look pretty good.
Between 16 and 25 knots the top-of-the-range 400hp Volvo D6 sterndrives return from 42 to 69 litres per hour for a cruising range of between 350 and 365 nautical miles from the sizeable 1,200-litre fuel tank (with a 20% safety margin in hand). Pushing it beyond 30 knots takes the shine off the figures, but for a beamy 44-footer, running efficiency looks very sound.
The Keizer 42 is impressively flat-running at pace too, with a much drier ride than its steep bow shape suggests. The experience is also relatively soft and, while there’s plenty of heel and grip in the turn, it offers a very easy and composed drive.
It’s understandable why the quest for efficiency might cause you to consider the more modest D4 300s or D6 370s, but as a 40-knot runabout with useful economy and pleasing pick-up, the top-rated 400s look beautifully matched.
While there’s room for improvement to some elements of the fit and finish, the highly distinctive Keizer 42 is a pretty, efficient and spacious runabout for day boating with groups of guests or longer-range cruising for families of four.
In fact, with a price tag well below the half-million-euro mark, allied to lots of free-thinking ingenuity down below and aesthetic individuality up top, it’s precisely the “great looking and practical” runabout Siep always wanted it to be.
LOA: 44ft 0in (13.42m)
Beam: 13ft 1in (3.99m)
Engine options: Twin 300-400hp
Test engines: Twin Volvo Penta D6 400hp
Top speed on test: 40.0 knots
Fuel consumption at 20 knots: 54.0 l/h
Cruising range at 7.5 knots: 900nm
Displacement (loaded): 11,500 kg
Fuel capacity: 1,200 litres
Price from: €390,000 (inc VAT)
Price as tested: €498,000 (inc VAT)