May 31st 2012. By Jeanne Craig.

Zeelander Z44: From Holland to Holland, Michigan

This dynamic day boat has a look and feel that earns it the nickname “mini super-yacht.”

With Volvo IPS pod propulsion, lightweight composite construction, gleaming mahogany accents, and luxury materials on every surface, the Zeelander Z44 is nothing short of glamorous. By coupling European styling with pristine picnic-boat features, it’s an intrinsically beautiful design, one that might even appeal to a person who can afford a much larger yacht, but really wants a gorgeous day boat that he can use for short runs on pretty days. And a dynamic day boat it is.

Zeelander Z44

Is it really a work of art? One glance, and you'll have trouble arguing against it.

The Zeelander was originally produced in Holland, and spent its first year making high-profile appearances at glittering events around the Mediterranean, including the Cannes Film Festival. Frank Mulder, who is based in the Netherlands, was the naval architect on the Z44. The Dutch studio Cor D. Rover designed the yacht’s superstructure, styling and ergonomics. Recently, though, production for the Z44 was moved here to the states—to Holland, Michigan, to be exact. This upscale luxury cruiser is now being built at the S2 Yachts facility where another premiere brand, Tiara, is manufactured. This yard’s reputation for quality and craftsmanship is renowned.

Impressive pedigree? Absolutely. The Zeelander also has a strong dealer network behind it. The brand is being distributed exclusively by MarineMax, and the company says the U.S.-produced versions are finding homes in communities such as the Ocean Reef Club, Fisher Island, the Palm Beach Yacht Club and Greenwich, Connecticut.

Behind the boat’s pretty lines is noteworthy performance. Twin 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS 600 diesels generate a top-end speed near 38 knots and a cruising speed of 28 knots. At cruise, the Z44 will get about one nautical mile to the gallon with a 500-gallon fuel capacity. More interesting, though, is the noise—or rather, the lack of it. The company reports sound levels as low as 64 decibels when running at cruise, and that’s with an open bridge deck. The credit for a ride that is easy on the ears goes to Silent Line Group, the sound and vibration specialist that’s worked some of the industry’s top yards, from Jon Bannenberg Unlimited to the Ted Hood Design Group.

Zeelander Z44

The Zeelander 44 isn't all about eye-appeal; its systems are the latest and its hull includes Kevlar and carbon fiber.

The Z44 is also offered with a number of systems that can make cruising even more comfortable. Among them is the Seakeeper gyro-stabilizing system that is as efficient at speed as it is at anchor. Other features make boating more convenient: think Apple iPad integration for onboard systems, a hydraulic swim platform, and portions of the deck that are made of Esthec, an environmentally-friendly composite material that’s durable, slip-resistant and easy to clean. High-tech materials are used below the waterline, too. The hull, for instance, is reinforced with carbon and Kevlar.

Zeelander 44 specificationsAs for creature comforts, there are thick cushioned lounges on the bow and at the stern, where a tender garage has an electric hatch. In the cabin, there’s a fully equipped galley plus two staterooms—one for the owner with a king-size berth and another for guests. Throughout the cabin, you’ll find only the finest woods, leathers, wools and metals. With plush accommodations, precise handing, quiet performance, premium materials and pure style, it’s no wonder Zeelander is calling this boat a mini-superyacht—and we agree, it’s an apt moniker.

Jeanne Craig has been covering powerboats since 1988. She spent ten years as a senior editor at Boating magazine and ten more as executive editor at Motor Boating. She’s now an independent writer based in Rowayton, Connecticut, where she’s close to the cruising grounds she most enjoys.