The third vessel of the Dutch-built fleet that includes the Z44 and Z55, the Zeelander Z72 was bound for owners who summer on Nantucket; I went along for the delivery run from Newport, Rhode Island.
Like her sisterships, the Z72’s design is inspired by 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. “We looked to make [the 72] more streamlined and to evolve [our] iconic look [for] an evolution of timeless design,” Zeelander Marketing Director Floris Koopmans told me.
Koopmans compared the 72 to the 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, 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—all three state-rooms are en suite, with a king-sized berth in the master and queens in two VIPs—she’s more of a grand tourer.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Once we reached our destination, I took a last look at the Z72. 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? —Jeff Moser
Displ.: 99,000 lbs.
Fuel: 1,400 gal.
Water: 50 gal.
Test Power: 3/1,000-hp Volvo Penta D13-IPS1350
Price: $3.9 million
Cruise Speed: 33 knots
Top Speed: 39 knots