Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023

Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023

Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023

Motor boat

27/07/2023 - 10:39

In 2002, Sietse Koopmans was looking for the yacht of his dreams. After exploring every option available on the market, he came to a realisation – everything else fell short. The only way to make his dream a reality, he decided, was to build it himself. Zeelander was born, and with it came the arrival of an iconic design that was engineered and built to a new benchmark.

This year, the boutique builder of exquisite motor yachts from 14.7 metres to 20.3 metres is celebrating 20 years at the pinnacle of handcrafted excellence. Combining the finest Dutch artisanal boatbuilding skills with exceptional design and engineering, and built in limited numbers at Zeelander’s state-of-the-art production facilities in the Netherlands, Zeelander yachts are admired and desired the world over for their elegant curves, luxury of finish and finesse, and unmatched comfort both at anchor and under way.

The range that began with the award-winning Z44 and Z55 now comprises three models, each carrying the same design cues and DNA as the originals. There’s the new Zeelander 5, at 14.7 metres, which is a subtle evolution of the Z44; the 17-metre Zeelander 6 serves as the ultimate weekender; and the 20.3-metre Zeelander 7 offers sublime cruising in a cocoon of comfort. They will soon be joined by a divine sibling, the details of which will be announced in due course.

Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023
Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023

Engineered artistry

Each and every Zeelander represents the pinnacle of elegance and engineering excellence. It stems from Koopmans’ own priorities for his own dream boat, which now extends to what has become the dream boat of discerning buyers around the world.

“I was actually looking to build a boat for myself,” says Koopmans. “I couldn’t find what I wanted on the market, and ended up doing a lot of research and development to come up with the perfect design. The idea was to build something that was unique and not run-of-the-mill, with the idea to cater to the very happy few who appreciate beauty, elegance and mechanical superiority.”

Those three elements remain at the core of every Zeelender built. There is beauty in the form which, from the very first Zeelander 44 to the current flagship Zeelander 7, centres on complex curves in every detail of the hull and every facet of the interior. There is elegance in timeless looks, artisanally crafted interiors and exquisite detailing. And there is mechanical superiority in the exceptional engineering that confers whisper-quiet running, smile-inducing performance and velvet-smooth ride comfort.

“I am a passionate engineer by trade, and I have a problem with anything that makes noise or vibrates,” says Koopmans. “Technically our yachts are very silent and vibration-free while offering an extremely comfortable ride thanks to proprietary engineering solutions. Those are combined with a hull that sits in the absolute sweet spot between a fast, flat shape that delivers maximum speed and a full deep-V that provides for maximum comfort. All our yachts register 72dBA or less of noise at 40-plus knots – such ability to hear quiet conversation at full speed is unheard of in this class of yacht.”

Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023
Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023

Crafted curves

Inspired by classic American commuter vessels and with hints of Downeast style and hardiness, Zeelanders feature complex curves at the heart of their DNA. Those curves are one of the features that makes them so iconic, so hard to build, and therefore so desirable – there are no imitators and no substitutes. From the elegant rise-and-fall wave of the sheerline to the gentle arc of the stern, and from the subtle flare of the bow to the delicate tumblehome of the rear quarters, Zeelenders feature an iconic design that, even with subtle evolutions over the years, remains 100 percent true to its roots. It is art and sensuality realised in three dimensions, but still with 360-degree views from the helm.

“Those curves are really difficult to make and nobody can copy them,” says Koopmans. “Even the windows in the hull feature double curves to blend perfectly with the constantly evolving double curve of the hull. We could have opted for flat glass, but we didn’t – it's a designer touch for a signature style, it’s what sets us apart, and it’s why our clients choose us because they know they can’t find that level of detail and finish with any other builder. Curves are beautiful, and that’s our DNA. As one of our clients told us, we make art for the water.”

It's probably why Zeelanders are a favourite among superyacht owners, who appreciate the superyacht levels of detail and quality found in every element of every Zeelander – to the extent that each Zeelander is delivered turnkey ready with everything included from the peppermill to bathrobes and slippers. As Koopmans says, “You just need to turn up with your toothbrush and you’re ready to go.”

Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023
Dutch yacht builder Zeelander is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023

The Zeelander experience

“When our clients spend time on their Zeelander, we want them to have the exact same experience as if they were on a superyacht,” says Koopmans. “That means not hearing the generator, no noise from the air-conditioning, and barely even being able to register that the engines are running. We supply everything as standard, with only a couple of market-specific items as an option, such as larger engines for the American market or gyro stabilisation for owners who want to coastal or offshore cruise.”

Such cruising is an option that all Zeelander models offer, not just for their exceptional ride comfort but also because they offer a range that exceeds almost any other yacht in their class. “Performance and range are not our prime focus – comfort and noise and attention to detail are – but Zeelanders actually perform exceptionally well and offer a very long range,” Koopmans admits. “It’s a positive surprise for clients!”

What is also a surprise is not just the way Zeelanders are built, but the facility they are built in. It is the epitome of professionalism, laboratory-clean at all times and designed specifically for the most efficient build schedule. Some 70 craftspeople and selected contractors work to put each Zeelander together, and each becomes a masterpiece borne from putting in the hours to get it right – the first Zeelander 5, for example, clocked 27,000 man-hours in its construction.

The result is something wonderful – a line-up of models whose timeless design remains true to the originals 20 years on, and whose lines will evolve – like a Porsche 911 – to stay the same for another 20 years to come. And having already delivered close to 50 Zeelanders over two decades, there are plenty of owners who can attest to their unique character. “We had one client fly to the yard just to tell us how incredibly happy he is with his boat,” says Koopmans. “He said that whenever he feels down he looks at a photo of his Zeelander and he becomes happy – that’s the biggest compliment we could ever have. What makes a Zeelander special?” Koopmans asks in conclusion. “Simply said, everything.”

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