Curvy, sexy, old-world, new technology, fast as hell – how do these words even fit into the same sentence? Only the Dutch could put together this kind of mash-up and have it result in some thing extraordinary—the Zeelander Z55 that first graced our shores at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last fall.
Just like her predecessor, the Z44, the new design drew crowds of both younger and older admirers as everyone checked out the elegant sheer, flared bow and curvy transom that flips down to form a giant swim platform. The interest in the new boat is no surprise since the 44 and 55 have much in common. The mega yacht designers of Van Oossanen upsized the Z44 hull and optimized it for pod propulsion. The new model now has twin Volvo Penta IPS 950 engines (725 HP each) that deliver a top speed just shy of 32 knots. Larger engines are available that can deliver even more oomph and they’re all joystick-driven for maximum control and ease-of-use.
The Z55 hull has a modest 14.5-degree deadrise aft and a moderate V-hull entry forward that can pound a bit in angling head seas. Three sets of three vertical oval ports add to the exterior retro aesthetic as does the cabin top overhang, which reaches aft to the large cockpit. Three round hatches on the cabin top forward bring in light and ventilation to the accommodations. Their shape further adds to the feel of being aboard a boat from yesteryear.
However, there’s nothing old-school about the Z55 even if it’s made to look that way. As you step aboard, there’s a sleek and deep U-shaped settee to port and a matching curved settee integrated into the starboard gunwhale. The walkway between leads from the deckhouse to the swim platform when it’s open. Anyone seated here enjoying cocktails will be blessed with 360-degree views. With the electric hi/lo table in the middle, the port side dinette converts to a full sunpad.
Farther forward are three stools that form the outdoor bar, separated from the inside galley with an electrically-actuated window that disappears into the bulkhead at the flip of a switch. The wood veneer of the deckhouse here isn’t either wood or a veneer—it’s carefully painted fiberglass made to look like wood—a detail that includes faux wood grain and speaks to the painstaking care that has gone into the appearance of this vessel.
Inside there’s another sofa, raised and surrounding a table on the same level as the helm, which is amidships. In keeping with everything coming in threes, there are three multifunction displays embedded into the angled dash. The wheel is placed oddly between two helm chairs—presumably so either occupant can drive. The engine throttles are to the left and the joystick to the right. The chairs swivel to join the activity at the dining table where six can enjoy dinner comfortably.
The windshield ahead is broken up into sections, each with its own wiper. The separate windows are in keeping with the overall design but the mullions can be a bit distracting, especially in heavily trafficked harbors. Overall however, the views from the salon are just as spectacular as those from the cockpit and the openness is assisted with the large electric sunroof overhead.
It would be easy to think of the Z55 as an ultra-swanky day boat but this grande dame has quite the interior on the accommodations deck courtesy of Cor D. Rover, a Dutch design studio. Steps to starboard lead down to four doors, which meet you at the bottom of the companionway. One door leads into an over/under bunk cabin and one opens to the VIP suite in the bow with the bed on the diagonal. A third door leads to the guest head that also serves as the day head and the fourth goes to the master suite. Although it’s positioned right below the salon, this stateroom is fairly spacious with 6’ 7” headroom and an athwartships bed that’s nearly seven feet long. An en suite head with a large shower compartment and a surprising amount of stowage space are included.
Lest you think that’s all that could possibly be packed into this 55-footer, take note: there’s a 13kW Cummins Onan genset in the machinery space and more importantly—a dinghy garage. A Williams 285 Jet Tender fits just forward of the engine room when placed athwartships with the help of an electric winch. That’s impressive given that this is a pod-driven boat with an opening transom.
Although the Z55 is an ultra-modern infused construction, it still comes in at a significant 53,000 pounds so the boat is substantial and won’t be kicked around in a seaway. With 870 gallons of fuel and the smaller 950 engines fitted, the range is 450 nautical miles at a respectable 26-knot cruising speed.
Something old, something new—it took a deft Dutch hand to meld together concepts that have spanned decades. Despite this strange mélange, the result is a head-turning yacht that will delight young and old alike.
See Zeelander Z55 listings, or read about other similar boats in our feature, Best Power Cruisers.