For Zeelander Yachts, an elite American look works wonders

GROOT-AMERS _ In 15 short years, Zeelander Yachts has become a top brand of motor cruisers that ooze an elite, very US East Coast lifestyle.Their smooth, rounded lines, high bow and low sweeping freeboard evoke the era of Wall Street commuter yachts in sharp  contrast with the angular look so popular these days with many European yards.

That market disruption works wonders for Zeelander Yachts, but has not come cheap. The company has invested heavily in designing, developing and building stand-out cruisers with ‘second to none’ interior customizing that reflects its commitment to quality.

The Zeelander look is the work of designer Cor D. Rover. It lifts the brand high above the crowd with peerless luxury on the water.

Launched in 2002, Zeelander Yachts makes high-end motor craft of 44 and 55 feet (13.4 and 20m.). A 66ft. (20M.) is coming soon and there are plans for a 72ft. (22m.) flagship. Says Commercial Director Leonardo  van  den  Berg: “It’ll have a wider  stern and even  more  curved surfaces.” The yard takes a cue here from luxury car brands’ work in iconography. “A  legendary  icon is  what we  envision  for  the  Z72,” says Van den Berg.

Zeelander Yachts’ rise to the top has been circuitous. It began making yachts in Turkey. But that posed logistical issues as the US market quickly took a shine to the brand and production had to be ramped up. Production was then moved to Tiara Yachts in the US where about 3 dozen Zeelanders were made.

In 2017, it was moved to the Netherlands. Van den Berg: “As we developed the Z55, the question arose, ‘Where to build it?’ Building at home has big advantages. In the Netherlands, we can be more flexible, more client-friendly than in the US. Here, we also have maximum quality control. What counts is that ‘Dutch-built’ is a strong label for anyone in yacht building in the Netherlands.”

The Zeelander hull is semi-custom. Only its shape is fixed, says Menno Versluis, head of production. “But our ‘build-spec’ book spans 78 pages. Once every option has been nailed down with the owner, we can start ordering materials.”

The company finds clients where they like to gather: For instance at the F1 race in Monaco, where it shuttled (potential) owners from the shore to yachts. Same with festivities at the Volvo Ocean Race finish in he Hague. “We strive to be visible,” says Van den Berg. “We like to be associated with event partners like car brands, charities, builders of large yachts.” He is wary of lobbying stock market investors “as the return on investment is not always high.”

This summer saw the launch of the fastest Z55. Powered by 2 Volvo Penta IPS-1350 with a pair of 6-cylinder, 12.8-ltr engines, it can do 42knots. To tame sound and vibration,  Zeelander Yachts installed extra insulation and thicker laminate from bow to midship.

The Z55 was the fruit of demand for a bigger Z44 which has 2 double berths, a 2m. swimming platform and a top speed of 35 to 40 knots. The Z55 (2 double + 1 single berth) can also be had in a convertible version, called the Corniche. At the moment, the Z66 is the largest Zeelander.