The new Zeelander 72 flagship is a mobile work of art, but how does it perform at sea? Alex Smith takes her for a spin
When it was first unveiled in March 2019 as the new flagship of the Dutch yard’s fleet, the Zeelander 72 looked like a mighty step up in scale. Nearly 30% longer than the previous flagship, at brought more than double the internal volume of the Z55 and took its place as the largest Zeelander ever built. However, in many ways, the new yacht remains a powerful advocate of established Zeelander protocol.
Its external design, for instance, is every bit as complex and sculptural as we have come to expect of Zeelander. In place of hard lines, flat surfaces and routine symmetries, there are swept cambers and corporeal swellings everywhere you look. It certainly adds expense and awkwardness to the manufacturing process but, as on previous models, this painstaking commitment to the Zeelander style rewards you with a shape as satisfying and singular as any.
That said, the new Zeelander 72 exhibits two very clear external differences. In the first instance, the flared bow remains much flatter than the raised forward sections of either the Zeelander 44 or the 55. And in the second, the tightly framed windows of Zeelander’s established models have been replaced by quadrilateral hull windows and vast one-piece screens that virtually eliminate the impact of obstructive mullions.
Aside from improving the forward view as the yacht makes its transition to the plane, the idea here is to add some extra stylistic potency without abandoning the brand’s famously traditional feel – and Zeelander has achieved that with laudable subtlety.
Step on board and it’s quickly plain that one of the chief assets here is the enormous aft swim platform. When locked in the ‘closed’ position at the foot of the cockpit’s aft lounger, the yacht’s overall length is curtailed at a very elegant 66ft.
With the platform lowered into place and stretching aft, that length extends well beyond 72ft, bringing 10.4 square metres (around 110 square feet) of ‘beach’ space into play. The fact that deploying the aft platform simultaneously eradicates the boundary between platform and cockpit is very pleasing while the details and engineering are true works of art.
Article continues below…
One of the most important boats of the year, we are the first magazine in the world to sea trial
For instance, the deep starboard ladder with its articulated rails is a glorious piece of design and so are the two side doors at the aft end of the cockpit, which look and feel delightfully over-engineered. But Zeelander’s emphasis on the aft day space is not without compromise and, as you might expect, that is most keenly felt in the tender garage.
With no room for a traditional garage at the transom, it is forced to run in a transverse direction beneath the cockpit sole, with the access point on the starboard side of the hull. At 3.79m in length and 2.72m in width, it certainly doesn’t lack capacity but it does mean you’ll need relatively docile conditions for the deployment and recovery of your tender.
As for the rest of the main deck, the layout is actually quite similar to that of the Z55. It features symmetrical walkaround side decks, orbiting an enclosed superstructure, with an inclusive eight-man dining space at the helm, an aft galley with a sheltered external bar and a large convertible seating and sun lounging unit at the centre of the aft cockpit.
It’s a very versatile solution, made all the more so by the sheer generosity of the Zeelander 72’s proportions; by the obstruction-free flow of deck space; and by the fact that each of the four entertaining areas has its own very distinct character.
Head down below via the brightly lit ‘wraparound’ staircase and you are greeted by an impressively proportioned owner’s suite in the bow. In addition to headroom approaching two metres, it continues the lovely curves seen above and brings them greater emphasis courtesy of LED strips, which cast an ambient glow across all the most flattering surfaces from hidden recesses behind the coamings.
The concave skylight, the walk-in wardrobe and the two-metre wide bed with drop-down TV are all attractive features but the leather decking is more debatable; while it looks and feels superb when new, after a few seasons, the natural ageing process may polarise opinion between those who see the patina as characterful and those who consider it scruffy.
Further aft is a pair of identical guest doubles, each with a transverse heads and shower compartment. They offer generous two-metre beds and similar headroom to the master suite, alongside a trio of large squared-off hull windows. The large bed-end seats are neatly conceived, the soundproofed ceiling fabric is a welcome touch and fixtures like the brushed metal handles and taut, modern blinds feel slick and high-grade.
When you look very closely, the slight misalignment of some of the panels and a ‘production’ feel to some of the joinery suggest that the fine detailing on this test boat doesn’t quite measure up to the exceptional hand-crafted quality of its siblings.
But with a sliding door between the two guest suites, enabling you to enjoy ‘his and hers’ bathrooms when the third cabin is unoccupied, there’s no doubt at all about the conceptual merit of the Zeelander 72.
Quick but cultured
Back up top, the three-man helm perches behind a one-piece screen, which measures well in excess of ten feet from side to side and almost four feet in height. In tandem with the large side windows and the vertical glass partition along the aft bar, it brings outstanding 360-degree visibility.
And, as the designers promised, when you put on some pace, the Zeelander 72’s combination of a flat foredeck, big tabs and prodigious power ensures that forward visibility is retained, even as this 42-tonne plaything makes her way over the hump and onto the plane.
Our maximum engine option (triple Volvo Penta D13 IPS1350s) sees us passing 20 knots in 11 seconds, 30 knots in 17 seconds and 40 knots in 25 seconds – and, impressive though that feels, the most satisfying element of it all is the gentle composure of the experience.
Even at wide-open throttle with 42.5 knots on the clock, the Zeelander 72 exhibits the mellow, equable manners of a high-grade gentleman’s launch with a heavyweight displacement hull. Noise readings remain resolutely beneath 74db and, notwithstanding the unexpected surge of throttle response at everything above ten knots, there’s really no great sense of pace here at all.
There is a brief blip in refinement at 800rpm and 11 knots, where vibrations become more prominent and noise readings rise to 66.5db (similar to 23 knots) before dropping back again. But with its ability to remain on the plane at ten knots or run at a very quiet and frugal 18 knots with a range approaching 600 nautical miles, the Zeelander 72 is a very capable cruising companion indeed.
Price as reviewed:
£3,350,000 ex. VAT
The Zeelander 72 is a fine looking motoryacht with a superb aft beach club, four main-deck recreational zones and wide-open 360° views. As things stand, this debut example of the Zeelander 72 lacks the exceptional levels of finish exhibited by the award-winning Z44 but knowing Zeelander that will soon be rectified. What is certain is that with its distinctive styling, its dynamic composure and its fearless commitment to quality over cost, the Zeelander 72 remains a motor yacht of enormous charm and character.
Price from: €4,014,000 (inc, VAT)
LOA: 72ft 5in (22.07m)
Beam: 19ft 8in (6.00m)
Engine options: Triple IPS 950-1350 inboards
Test engines: Triple Volvo Penta D13 IPS1350
Top speed on test: 42.5 knots
Fuel consumption @ 23.5 knots: 187lph
Cruising range @ 23.5 knots: 522nm
Noise @ 23.5 knots: 66.5dB(A)
Displacement: 42.0 tonnes (92,594 lbs)
Fuel capacity: 5,200 litres (1,143 gal)
Water capacity: 1,500 litres (330 gal)