Author: Jon Bassett

Zippy’s Trip to Shoreham

Hello from Zippy Zero, the chatty DZero, with tales of my latest adventures on the South Coast; this time at Shoreham Sailing Club Open.

The club is one of the latest DZero breeding centres and 8 of the 9 home club boats were competing at this new DZero venue. Together with 10 visiting boats, the fleet set off from the sheltered harbour out to sea for a series of 6 races on an Olympic course over the 2 days.

We had travelled South from West Kirby the previous day in the heaviest downpours I’d seen in a month. Alright for Owner in her nice dry car – I had a full-on colonic irrigation experience on the M40 and I fear my underpants will never be the same. I digress. We arrived late that night to the YHA on top of a hill that was so high it was in a raincloud. Foggy, wet, eerie. No place for a boat, let alone the dirt track that I climbed up to get there. Brown underpants. Say no more.

Back at sea level the next morning, I was feeling much better. I’d forgiven Owner for her failings in my transportation and overnight accommodation and we tootled off to the start line in good spirits. She was quite alert given her age and the number of miles she’d driven that week and propelled me towards the start line at full speed as the gun went. Even better, there was a vacuous hole to leeward of me and I was feeling good! We rounded the top mark 4th behind Tyler Harmsworth, Thomas Southwell and Adam Thompson and I nipped, Zipped, dipped and whipped around the course until I could see the whites in Tyler’s eyes. The RO finished my Zippings with a firm gun, leaving me in 2nd place, ahead of Tom and Adam, but behind Tyler.

There followed a second hour-long race, but with a huge wind shift on the start line. Gareth Griffiths crossed the fleet on port tack whilst all of us boats tried to bite his transom as he squeezed by. But a good fly-by it was and he went on to finish 2nd behind Tom, who picked his way up the shifty first beat well. Local sailor Martin Walker kept the pressure on the leaders with good downwind boat speed to finish 3rd.

The wind spun once more and a new course was laid. Tyler made a clean break and led the race, with Andrew Spencer from Blithfield sailing his best race of the series and coming 2nd.

The end of the day saw Tom leading the series from Tyler and Martin and me (plus Owner Liz; yes she can have a mention) in 4th place.

So homewards we drifted, to the safety of the little harbour, until the rescue boat cut us off and stopped us in our tracks. This was to allow a shipping movement out of the harbour. When I saw the size of it, I nearly had a shipping movement of my own. I’ve often wondered, when does a boat become a ship? I now know that it’s when it can ride over Zippy and leave little behind. Me and my mates stayed well clear until the harbour was empty.

The next day I awoke to cool drizzle and grey skies. For a moment I thought we were in Scotland, but no, that was last weekend Zippy. The Race Team left early to set up the course, whilst us boats teetered on the slipway with our sails up looking for wind (and mischief). There was no wind and hence no opportunity for mischief. After an onshore delay, a zephyr arrived and we were beckoned out to sea.

After a poor start in Race 5, we picked our way to the pointy end of the fleet, where I set my sights on Gordon Stewart for overtaking purposes. I slid past stealthily on the reach and was dismayed to find him creeping back upwind of me like some sort of unwanted relative at Christmas. I felt the need to luff him and managed to wipe off my Klingon onto David Valentine, who was approaching on his finishing leg. I chose my moment to throw in an excellent double gybe and rounded the mark ahead of Gordon. Unfortunately, Owner hadn’t noticed the S flag (it was only 22 mins into the race after all!), so let Gordon tack off and lay the finish ahead of us. The three local sailors Martin, Gareth and Chris Handel took line honours, whilst David Valentine finished 6th, to give him a scoreline of 6,6,6. Beware fellow DZ’s.

By Race 5, we were joined by Shoreham Sailing Club’s Sunday handicap fleet and what a fine collection of boats came out to play – including some beautiful Merlin Rockets! We all had a long delay, whilst the wind swung around, courses were re-laid and the Commodore did some fishing off the RIB.

When we were all ready, Owner made another good start, tacking early to pick up the windshift. We arrived at the windward mark just behind Tyler and watched Martin overtake us both downwind on his slightly superior zephyr. He went on to win the race from Tyler, with me in 3rd. Ray Collins from Locks SC was not too far behind in 4th.

The wind was dying as well as swinging wildly by the last race. The RO got us away for a short race, which was led and won by Adam. Martin finished 2nd to take the series and in 3rd was Ian Patrick from Bough Beech SC, who had come for just the day. Another visitor, Noel West from Newhaven & Seaford SC clocked his best race result with a 6th.

Congratulations to the top 4; Martin, Tyler, Adam and Gareth all from Shoreham SC. Well done to Owner coming 5th and me as first visiting boat.

Martin Walker, overall winner

Congratulations to Shoreham SC for a very well run and enjoyable event. Also in their successful DZero breeding programme; there was another arrival as we watched on Sunday morning. Competitor Nigel Pybus sealed the deal on 324, taken on by Chris Handel for his son. Then there were ten.

Thank you to Steve Southall (280), finishing 11th, for co-ordinating the event and encouraging the visitors to come. We will be back I’m sure.

Next up is my home event at West Kirby and Dee Regattas, where I will continue to recruit competitors for our DZero Nationals in Largs this August.

It’s going to be a magical summer.

Zippy Zero 333

Photos are all copyright Warwick Baker /

Zippy’s One-Design Adventures in Largs

Harken One Design Regatta, Largs SC

It’s Zippy Zero, THE DZero, reporting once again, after a tootle to Bonnie Scotland (544 miles round trip) last weekend and all packed and ready to go to Shoreham-you-can’t-go-further-South-without-rigging-me (562 miles round trip). 1106 miles in ten days. All for ME!!

So; our first Open meeting this year and it’s June already. What strange times we’ve had. Rest assured folks, sailing is one of the safest activities you can do that doesn’t involve snotting over eachother, so get out there and take our covers off please! It was great to learn that there were 44 Dzeros out there racing at 2 events last week. Lets see if we can all make it to Largs for our Nationals on 20th August. It’s a great venue and filled with enthusiastic local sailors and professional race crews to give us the best possible experience.

Back to our weekend event. It was great to catch up with my boatie friends and the Owners seemed very happy to be together again. I arrived a day early, hopping and popping behind Owner’s new camper van as she made her way up the M6. By the time we passed Gretna, it was very windy, but it was a reach, which is my favourite. Owner had plenty of practice veering between the motorway lanes in the gusts before we could do it for real on the race course.

Youth Ambassador Jamie Briggs (300) with speed off the line

The plan was to get there a day early for a tune up with the infamous fast Scots. We arrived to dark skies, white horses and cool temperatures, so the pre-race sailing day turned into a bimble day and I spent the morning in the boatpark having various therapies; upright, sideways and even standing on my head. Owner and friends examined my nether regions with lots of oohing and erring. The reason for the intense and embarrassing scrutiny stemmed from various complaints about decibel humming in my daggerboard area. It’s actually a digestion feature – all that weed, sea water and salt can make a boat a bit gassy at times; it’s known in the business as “Foil Chatter”. However, Owner wanted a solution for my little personal problem and discovered that my daggerboard’s trailing edge was jamming in the lower rear slot of the case, which was causing my vortex to mis-fire or something. A small Velcro suppository was carefully inserted into my daggerboard slot with eye-wateringly pointy pliers, assisted by Jon McBassett, whilst Sam McSloss held onto my nose tightly. Result! – my guts were silenced for the weekend. As a bonus, my hums are more tuneful and I smell a bit nicer.

On Saturday morning, 21 DZeros were all getting ready to hum with me. The wind was still blowing hard, but sheltered by Cumbrae it looked quite pleasant out there. All that changed once we reached the race area and got worse the closer we got to Cumbrae and the windward mark. Ian McBaillie from Dalgety Bay made a strong start and went on to win the race from Aberdeen & Stonehaven’s Niel McRitchie. This was much the theme for the day. I was blissfully unaware of the tussles at the front of the fleet, having my own demons to battle at the rear following a Flippy Zippy moment ending in a capsize on the first run. I did try to warn Owner that the waves were not to my liking, by offering her a little bit of Tippy Zippy which she ignored at her peril. She continued to play those naughty waves til “Boom”! I tried to help by sailing on anyway, with my boom in the air and sail set on a horizontal mast. Thus, we made rapid progress to the leeward mark with Owner clinging forlornly onto my daggerboard. Eventually she gave up riding the great white and swam slowly to the DZ control room to sort out my rig and try something else to get me upright. Needless to say, we were glad to see the finish line many laps later.

Billy ‘Smiling’ McCarlie (265)

There followed a long wait for the second race, whilst we watched the Musto Skiffs career around their larger course. Owner was looking chilly, so I made her hike as hard as possible in the next race to warm her up.

By the end of Race 2, we had been on the water for over 3 hours and Owner’s teeth had developed an alarming degree of foil chatter. She was cold and blue, so I took her home and dumped her on the beach. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet still had two more races and 2 hours of sailing to go!

By the following morning, the wind had changed direction but was still as strong. The windward mark was set by Fairlie, up towards the mouth of the Clyde and not too far away from the huge green conical channel marker buoy. From my little nose it looked 8 times the size of a DZero (my nose is small and it looked very scary). The buoy seemed to have a bow wave bigger than mine and appeared to be sucking me towards it. I kept well away.

Gabriele Dado (281) – Step 1: borrow a boat. Step 2: show the regulars what they should be doing

The courses were shorted today, but still involved very long beats against the tide. Between the last two races, I paused to play with two friendly porpoises that were leaping around my hull. The creatures were saying “we’ve come inshore because it’s blowing old boots out there and it’s coming your way”. Owner does not speak porpoise.

The Race Officer also did not speak porpoise.

Off we set for Race 7, which had us hardy boats screeching downwind in gusts of 28 knots. The penultimate leg was a multi-fleet graveyard of upturned RS400s, 29ers and Musto Skiffs. A few DZeros were also inverted, with only 9 boats finishing the race. The tenth boat to attempt finishing that race was one Mick Green, who was so far behind after his epic capsize routine, that the marks had been lifted and the committee boat had gone home as he scanned the horizon for something to round.

We managed a 7th place pipping locals Billie McCarlie and Willie McTodd on the last mark rounding.

Hunting in packs

Back ashore the winner’s podium was graced with the all round skills of Niel McRitchie, winning on countback with equal points from Ian McBaillie. Fleet newcomer Gabriele McDado was third in a borrowed boat and Rhodri McThomas from Dalgety Bay was fourth in his first DZero event. A special mention to another newcomer Andy McHutchinson from Loch Earn, who was only able to race one day, but had the impressive results of 2,3,4.

In fifth place was Jon McBassett with a tidy scoreline.

Billy McCarlie was my Lanterne Rouge boat in 6th place; the last boat to complete every race.

It was a series that showed the versatility of us boats and our ability to cope with all weights, ages and swimming ability. Well done Qwners – you really are great fun and we humour you well.

Well done also to Martin McLatimer, Jon McBassett and the race team at Largs who have worked so hard behind the scenes and at the event to pull this off.

On behalf of my fellow DZero dinghies, “We had a ball”

Zippy Zero 333

Emsworth Slipper SC – D-Zero Open Meeting Report

12 June 2021 Sponsored by Solent Boatworks

Sun and blue sky met the D-Zero’ists as they collected on the Quay at Emsworth Slipper, arriving early to setup and rig in covid compliant conditions. Emsworth is a busy town, with many cafes and people walking the promenade, so another 24 D-Zero’s consisting of many visitors, at the top of the harbour club produced a good spectacle for all.

As they sailed out to the race area, light winds from the North were unexpected, and made some close on timing as PRO – Dave Cockerill started the countdown and R1 got underway in a trapezoid ABCD format, hopefully to make the most of the fun and speed from a D-Zero on a reach. Keen local David Valentine attempted a pin-end port flyer, though was met with several others coming in and forced him over the line and tap another with his boom, only to return and do some spins and from last, headed back out with gusto. Not being a sheep, he banged again onto port and found clear air to lift his position. Close racing other than the very front, though little reaching speed, where Ben Oakley of Emsworth showed a light wind masterclass and led from the first mark, though the second lap made a few places change hands. Ben Oakley took the bullet, with the D-Zero poster boy Tom Southwell of Hill head in 2nd, and Jonathan Cunnison also of Emsworth in 3rd.

With the wind up and down, R2 setoff with some puffs, Valentine learning from last race and chasing Ben Oakley hard on starboard, with Tim Weeden of Slipper, Joe Constable of Grafham and Class Chair Paul Jefferies of Hunts showing his experience and jostling for position. More close racing with many rounding marks all together. The D-Zero not being affected by weight or size of sailor, and allowing racers to continually challenge every position through the race. As the wind lightened, the PRO wisely chose to shorten the race, and as the wind dropped out Ben Oakley took the bullet. Joe Constable and david valentine were neck and neck with a boat length to get to the finish, and Valentine decided on a couple of tacks to try and find air, and just scraped through by inches to take 2nd. Joe Constable taking 3rd. All the rest of the pack were backed up between the Committee Boat and the 4th mark, and used every bit of skill to creep across the line, some gaining, some losing right at the bitter end, with Tim Weeden taking another solid 4th.

Then the sea breeze came in, flipping the direction 180 degrees and added about 10 knots. The PRO looked to swop marks around, though some smart comms with the patrol craft and some local sailors managed to share the new course between the D-Zero’s and run a DCBA course. The line was a little tight though all 24 managed to cram themselves in, though David Valentine left the start like a scolded cat, with Ben Oakley and Gavin Fleming pushing a little too much and gaining an OCS. Keen watching from the PRO and pin-end patrol craft enabled some quick spotting. Valentine got to the 1st mark, keeping his D-Zero very flat, rounded and shot away down the reach. Gavin Fleming not realising his OCS was not far behind and had several of Ben O, Tom S, Gordon Stewart of North Herts East Beds, Ben Davis of Thorney, and Ian Lloyd-Williams all the way from Bala challenging his position, with Tim W very close.  Valentine was watching with interest as they fought their way down the run, covering off anything as he zigged his way to the last mark, rounding with speed with several coming in quickly, so gaining composure and drove his DZ hard upwind tacking close to cover off, and took the bullet with a reasonable lead. Ben O and Gavin following up though no hoot to their shock. 1st David Valentine, 2nd Tom Southwell, 3rd Gordon Stewart.

The PRO being wise took the decision to bale whilst the going was good and get everyone home for the sponsored post-race  tea from Solent Boatworks, which as promised provided plenty of refreshments, cakes and other carbs to feed the hungry sailors, which was probably the best tea ever !

David Valentine, as event organiser, presented the glassware from Emsworth Slipper to the top 5 overall – 1st Ben Oakley , 2nd David Valentine, 3rd Tom Southwell, 4th Tim Weeden and 5th Jonathan Cunnison.

We’re Back!

2021 looks set to be a return to open meetings with the DZero travelling circuit (or should that be circus?) planned through the summer and autumn. So how do you make these boats really go? We asked some previous champions in the fleet for advice.

Dan Holman: DZero designer, 2015 & 2019 DZero National Champion

Sail regularly with guys that are better than you, don’t be precious and have a delicate ego about being beaten like some club sailors seem to have – learn as much as you can from the experience and work really hard on learning and getting better than them. If you are really keen, many (but not all) can benefit from using a coach. Watching great sailors (from a RIB or similar) is also very insightful.

Steve Bolland: 2018 DZero National Champion

Change your name to Dan Holman! Seriously, fitness is my number one tip. The first winter I had the boat I was participating in one of the South West winter series races and I remember seeing a drone photo of Stacey Bray and myself going upwind. I thought I was sitting out hard but I clearly wasn’t, so I spent the next six months working on my core strength. This lets you extend your upper body rather than hunching up when sitting out. It seems to be more important in boats like the DZero which don’t have much width. 

Nick Craig trying quite hard

George Cousins: 2017 DZero National Champion

Upwind: Sail the boat as flat as possible. This is hard because the boat has low freeboard there is a tendency to want to heel the boat over to lift your bum out the water. Instead learn to hike with straighter legs – (observe Steve Bolland) Straight legs with a tight toe strap allow you to keep the boat flat which optimises the rig/ hull shape and balance of the boat all of which is fast.

Ian ‘Spirit-Level’ Baillie

All sounds like quite a lot of hard work and no quick fix….  Who would have thought?

2021 RSK DZero National Championships – Notice Of Race

It has been one heck of a wait since we all went to Weymouth but the 2021 National Championships in Largs are well and truly on the horizon.

Sponsored by RSK and Tunnocks and anticipating a record turnout this championship looks set to be the biggest and best yet. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Scottish west coast, Arran, the Isle of Bute and the Kintyre Peninsula this promises to be a championship to remember.

Hosted by Largs Sailing Club the Notice of Race can now be downloaded from the event page (click here) together with more information on the venue, the surrounding area and places to stay. Racing will be over 3 days Friday to Sunday 20-22 August , with an informal warm-up race on Thursday 19 August – our very own Round The Island, of Cumbrae.

Enter now and secure your place and accommodation for the event and a Scottish summer holiday.

On The Origin Of The D-Zero

We all know it is a fantastic boat giving us great fun racing and that ear to ear smile but it was time to find out a little more about the origins of the D-Zero from designer and current national champion, Dan Holman.

Dan, you designed the D-Zero, the boat we all enjoy sailing so much. Thank you! This is famously based on your Punk design. Can we get a potted history of how the boat came about?

Thank you guys – the passionate owners and sailors are a great reward to me.

As for the Punk, I’d spent most of my teens and early 20s laser sailing, owned something like 10 lasers, raced at the highest level against some legends of the sport so I was really lucky in that regard. Probably the best and worst moments of my life were in those days’ of laser sailing.

By 2004 I came 3rd in the Olympic trials and was pretty stale and burned out not to mention broke so decided to quit the full time campaigning that I’d been doing for the previous 18 months and join the real world. I had 2 lasers at the time and sold both. I was doing a bit of windsurfing at the time for light relief. I got a job and started working but decided that I still missed having a boat and sailing. I didn’t want another laser as I had been there, done that and also I felt that as a product it was pretty flawed and well overpriced for what it was, and even back then one certainly got the impression that the massive margin wasn’t being ploughed back into the class or the sport.

I loved the “art” of unstayed narrow singlehanded hiking boat sailing and felt that I wasn’t catered for in the market. Nobody wanted to do something modern because it was not going to sell 3000 boats a year, but of course you didn’t need to sell 3000 boats to be economically viable. So I decided to have a go at one myself – I was a qualified Naval Architect, how hard could it be? I’d always wanted to design boats but it seemed that a career in yacht design was difficult to get established in, so I pooled in my laser money, and scraped together various other savings and got to work.

The approach I took was completely artistic insofar as I wasn’t aiming to do it commercially and sell boats, but to get the no compromise effect that I wanted, it meant a making full set of female moulds and loads of custom parts. So for three of the best years of my twenties I spent every evening and weekend day working on designing and building some aspect of the boat. I was very lucky insofar as my father had some workshop space in Cornwall, as well as an understanding of many of the processes, not to mention the all-important sympathy to my cause, so I abused that privilege heavily, and saw an awful lot of the M5 and A38 between Cornwall and Bristol where I was living.

I designed and had at least some part in building every part of the boat apart from the blocks and ropes so it was a very long winded but rewarding process. I had the moulds done by early 2008, found a builder to help do the actual lamination (Jamie Stewart, who was at the time building a lot of the RS dinghies under subcontract) and after a lot of commissioning and assembly etc I launched the boat in the Autumn of 2008, had a big party and couldn’t have been prouder of the outcome.

How much change occurred between your Punk design and the Devoti boat we are now sailing?

Quite a lot changed. Probably the biggest single change was the move to a bailed cockpit which made it much deeper and nicer ergonomically. I’d already moved away from the wishbone boom for a number of reasons, I had made a log of over 100 minor or major changes that I had made to the Punk Boat, and speculatively designing V2 before the Devoti introduction happened.

The D-Zero is a bit fuller in the ends to make it easier to sail or more forgiving. Then there were a load of features to accept some of the Devoti parts and components. The laminate / construction method is a little bit different between Punk and D-Zero. I’d worked with North and Selden on a v2 Punk rig which still works to this day, but Devoti had a relationship with Compotech, so the North sail that you see now was built around that mast and spar set. We used foils that Devoti had invested in for the D One. The under-floor sheeting was parked – it was cool but higher cost and higher friction.

Were there any features on the Punk you would have liked to have seen on the D-Zero and what ruled them out?

Devoti gave me pretty much carte blanche on the hull design itself and that was pretty much where I wanted although if more prototyping had been allowed who knows where we would have ended up!

There are a few things on the Punk that are a bit custom and a bit special that make it that bit crisper and sweeter, that I would have liked to have retained, relating to construction and rig, but I accept that this would have resulted in higher cost so all of this sort of thing is a bit of a compromise and there will always be value engineering.

In working with Selden on other dinghy design projects, and seeing the RS Aero, I really love working on the product design of custom parts with Selden as having that sort of “Jewellery” can really set the boat off as a product, so it would have been nice to have been partnered with them in that regard. Essentially, with a project like this, whilst it was my “baby” and I had poured a lot of sweat equity into it, Devoti were making an actual financial investment, taking the risk, so there is always some back and forth there.

On the whole it went well and was pretty frictionless.

We have all recently seen your work in the International 14 and congratulations on getting 2nd place in the worlds in Perth.  What other dinghies are you working on?

Thanks very much. Perth feels like a long time ago already! I hadn’t done much designing since the 2016 Fusion dinghy with Glen Truswell, which I was very proud of and continues to sell well. Designing, building repairing and modifying the i14 has taken most of my time in the intervening period. That said I’m always keen to keep my crayons sharpish so this year I have a largely mature 30ft IRC race boat that has sadly been parked for coronavirus reasons, I have drawn a version 2 of my “Cuckoo’s Nest” i14 pulling in all the lessons from the first one, and I’m getting close to halfway through a new rotormoulded dinghy. So I guess its been a busy time in the vacuum left by a reduction in sailing.

I want to build a sports car as well, so I’m sketching and making models for that a lot at the moment as well.

So not much going on then! If the car turns out to have any of the quality and flair of the D-Zero, I’m getting one! Anything else interesting that we can quote you on?!

I think that most of my quotable thoughts would not be “woke” enough for 2021. Having said that, I think that looking at the cradle to grave cost and environmental impact of electric cars, they are not an improvement on internal combustion, or at least they only reach a tipping point when a substantial majority of the electricity that powers them is supplied from renewable sources. We should punitively tax all new vehicles above around 1500kg.

 A few second hand ones that I always liked:

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Einstein

“I was just wondering whether there will ever be a boy born who can swim faster than a shark.” Gareth Keenan  – for George Cousins

Thanks for you time Dan, and thanks for the D-Zero.

8, 12, 16, 24 or 32?

Kicker purchase ratios seems to have been the hot topic of the 2021 non-season in the DZero fleet. But what is all the fuss about and what does it all mean?

Steve Bolland: 2018 DZero National Champion & RS300 supremo (32:1)

You started this whole kicking strap purchase debate – explain yourself!

Haha, you had to bring that up! OK, I’ll do my best to explain. So, my upwind sailing style is to adjust the kicker for each gust. In the Lark my crew used to look upwind and pull the kicker on when a gust hit and eased it as it passed, leaving me to concentrate on the telltales and the waves. When I sailed a borrowed boat in 2016 I had real trouble adjusting the kicker upwind, mostly because the control line is led down the centre of the boat which requires tricep muscle power when the bicep is the dominant arm muscle. After I bought my own boat I found that a 32:1 kicker was what I needed to play the kicker upwind easily. In most classes a 16:1 is sufficient but then the control lines are led to the sides of the boat and you can use your biceps. Also, at the 2016 champs I noticed that the shape of Ian Morgan’s sail was different to everyone else’s and it seemed he was using more kicker than most. Am I cleared? 

Regardless of the purchase they all do the same job. Does it all just boil down to strength and personal choice?

​So you’re saying I have weak arms! OK I admit it! I do prefer a lot of kicker upwind in a breeze but if you’re strong enough you can still get the desired tension with less purchase. I favour a powerful kicker set-up purely for ease of use rather than because I use more kicker tension. 

George Cousins: 2017 DZero National Champion, professional dinghy coach and sailmaker (8:1)

The debate about kicking straps and purchase which started when Steve Bolland unveiled his 32:1 kicker, coming into the class from the RS300: what are your thoughts on this?

I used 8:1. I like the idea of less string in the boat and the ergonomics of being able to crank on kicker in one big pull. That being said if with more purchase you feel more then that would work too.

Regardless of the purchase they all do the same job. Does it all just boil down to strength and personal choice?


Dan Holman: DZero designer, 2015 & 2019 DZero National Champion, 2nd at 2020 Int14 Worlds (8:1)

It is fair to say you know a bit about how the DZero works… In Weymouth you were using the class demo boat with the original 8:1 ratio. What are your thoughts on the kicker ratios out there with some people using up to 32:1?

My formative years were in the laser with only rope loops for purchase and 8:1 was ok then for me – its more a matter of technique to get enough on. I think 8:1 in the Zero with cushy ball bearing blocks is plenty and that these days everyone is soft and spoiled and have come to expect everything to be convenient and easy! But in all seriousness, as a designer I’m of the school of thought that for simplicity, elegance and cost, a design is not done when you’ve finished adding stuff to it, but when you’ve finished taking stuff away. By the same token I also have to recognise that the customer is always right and that the rest of the world has moved on since 1993 and that many punters may like to have more purhcase and more string washing around their cockpits. I think that there could be an issue with some boats with massive purchases (8:1 is self limiting!) but I haven’t heard of issues in the zero in this regard, and you always have to be able to duck the boom!

Well I think that sorts out that debate, maybe….

George Cousins Coaching –

The World According to David main man and official UK dealer gives us an update on the class, the boat and fashion

David, thanks for taking the time to update us, how is the UK DZero market given the Coronavirus restrictions?

New D-Zero’s have continued to sell, albeit at a significantly slower pace than 2019, not surprisingly due to various lockdowns, clubs being closed etc etc. However used D-Zero’s have been going great guns and several have been sold via brokerage, and higher than 2019, so work that out… What is good to see is that as many sailors as possible are using their D-Zero’s and getting this word out to all is key for us all to promote the Class, not just for the few but for the many…

Is this consistent with what you are seeing in other classes, Devoti boats and the market in general?

From what I hear and see via various industry forums and news, it’s been a very challenging year for the marine industry. Some haven’t survived already (two major builders this year alone), and sadly I’m sure it won’t be the last. Many boat businesses are run as hobbies, which is great for sailors, but not good for business. Margins are tiny compared to everything but software markets, and as some of you may see, every time a small business gets a sale, they do a little jig. If we can get through the winter and Q1’21, then it should all be good, however we all have Corporation Tax and PAYE to pay early next year so that could be a crunch time for many. Sadly it may not be just the high street that suffers…

The factory have been broadening their horizons to ensure stability also, so hopefully 2021 could be a good year! As I write, more discussion and news on vaccines, so lets get out sailing, show the D-Zero off to all, and I cannot wait till Largs 2021!

During the Olympic class selection trials we saw some potential changes to the boat design: deck extenders, new sail shape… Are any of these still being considered? Why?

The trials were a good time to gain feedback from elite level sailors, so some new ideas were tried out to see if there were any benefits – hiking extenders, which seemed to be more of a pain to build into the boat than the benefit gained (though you never know till you try), sail materials were tested as the grey and blue materials are brilliant for longevity, several times over a dacron sail, and value is a major point of discussion. Seems price is better in some eyes than value – strange world !? There were some other ideas tried; feedback and development was useful.

Devoti always are keen to look at ideas as to how a boat can be improved – look what they did with the Finn through the years and ended up with the Finn Fantastica – a class leading boat that 99% of elite sailors demanded; however for now, the D-Zero was so well designed in the first place, things work when you pull them, though development ideas will never cease – just look at the Pimps & Bimbles page.

What was amazing were the comments about mainsheets going out the back of the boat (as it’s sternless), having to reach in to get to the controls – and yet the majority sailed Lasers or Finns where you have to lean in. I believe our friends at RS were equally frustrated on some feedback, and they had a great proposition as did Devoti.

Are there any new developments planned?

We are looking at sail materials as above, check cover materials for wear and UV (that sun is such a pain !), and we’ve looked at gelcoat colours (standardising on white and grey, though also mindful of UV when needing to repair), though nothing else currently.

What do you see as being the realistic future of the DZero in crowded single-handed market?

I believe sailors will know the best single-hander, and it’s good to have competition; I am sure more will come from those who want to fly. However, whether you can use it in all weathers and conditions is the key point.

It’s down to us all to market the D-Zero and show why it’s great, whether it’s in waves, or flat water (let’s get those pictures out there !), the fun ole’ bunch we are, we can get Tunnocks (and Gin companies) to sponsor us, the boat just works, its built well (yes we have some issues, as does every builder, but it’s how you deal with it in customer service), and let’s make noise and disrupt the media so everyone knows what stupid grins we get ! You can see those owners that really work at it, as they build their fleets, get out sailing in groups – it’s not easy, doesn’t always last, but let’s tell people why !

How big is the DZero fleet in the UK and internationally?

Germany and Netherlands are growing fast, and there are many users across Eastern Europe, Italy, Belgium are building all the time, and we have more owners in the US. Classes in some countries have other challenges as clubs and countries have to adopt the Class, so its not just down to the sailor thinking I want that boat. What is great to see is the way the UK Class Assoc have led the way and many of our non-UK friends look in to see what’s happening, so this will build as we progress. 6 years is very short in sailing terms…

The class has a single builder which ensures uniformity, but that builder has recently been awarded an ILCA build contract. Given Devoti’s pedigree in building boats if their ILCA becomes as popular with the Olympic elite as their Finns will this ‘high end client’ demand effect the supply of the DZero?  

Devoti are unlike many other builders, they support and continue to support all their classes they build, and have stated they will keep supplying the D-Zero builds, and will work closely with me and the other European dealers.  The benefit is that if the ILCA does provide more numbers, this makes the builder stronger financially, and therefore will have better and bigger facilities than it already has, as well as keeping their quality employees to ensure high level boat quality – no robots used at Devoti. Devoti have also worked with some of the key suppliers used on the D-Zero to supply ILCA parts, so its strengthening the whole supply chain.

The price differential between a DZero and ILC is only £103 in the UK (according to your website!) so what assurances can Devoti and offer to us as a class that they will continue to supply and support us?

Both Devoti, myself and other dealers have worked hard through this year to ensure both of our financial status, diversifying and being prudent where possible. Just shows that the D-Zero is extremely good value, for the technology you gain, and the build quality. The ILCA is a different market and enables diversification to support the factory and dealerships around the world. Devoti are very keen to support the D-Zero, and have supported in many ways, whether that is getting parts to me extremely quickly to keep you sailing, ensuring full stocks of parts at my yard, the factory and at their suppliers.

Look at the ILCA as a supporter of the D-Zero and not a challenger.

Feedback we get from club members is that the boat is expensive. How can we get around this as a fleet? You can pick up an old Laser for under £500 and get club racing but we don’t have that age legacy of boats.  

Hmm, I have to think about this, as I do get people playing the “it’s expensive card”, and I answer honestly, “yes, you can always get older, cheaper boats, however let’s compare accurately”. At Shows and at Events, or talking when sailors have demo’d the D-Zero and then I run them around the D-Zero – high quality vinylester foam sandwich build, high quality carbon spars throughout with less than 1% breakages, North Sails Kevlar laminate sail lasting years on a competitive basis, Harken blocks and cleats throughout – quality, just quality. Then let’s discuss the feel good factor, ask any sailor who’s sailed it (except some of the Olympic trailers, hahahaha).

Then you get onto the depreciation – D-Zero’s keep 90% of their value after a year, and still have nearly 60% of their value after 6 years. Compare that to other boats ? I hate to compare with other boats as I don’t think you can do a straight comparison, however looking at the market, several other single-handers are more expensive than the D-Zero @ £6950, so I don’t fully understand – maybe I need to put the prices up !!.

Let’s run through some prices as I’m not sure where it’s expensive, especially when you say about the ILCA (that was designed in 1970, so our prices will be interesting in 50 years ??), however here we go, all taken as Dec 2020 prices from builders website –

RS Aero £7,860 (start at £7330 plus a 9m2 sail, Harken parts, side cleats, carbon tiller); Hadron H2 £10,295; Solo £6,595; Phantom £9,750; Waszp £10,243; OK £8,350; Solution £6,700; VX Evo £13,995 and a Musto Skiff £12,580 (lots of boat but still £12k+) shall I go on…

I’m happy with the pricing, would love it to be higher, though think its about right.

As a dealer you are personally very active on the racing circuit and a fan of the boat. What would you say to anyone trying to decide between a DZero and the other boats on the market?

Just go sail it! I’ve sailed hundreds of boats up to 70ft, and over 50 years, yes I’m that old, and nothing has given me the buzz I get from the D-Zero.

The DZero tends to have quite a devoted following with few people leaving the class. The smile factor when people come off the water is universal. What makes it such an appealing boat?

It’s easy to sail, quite fast, accelerates well, doesn’t seem to have an ideal sailor weight (thank goodness for those larger boned !), its rewarding – you tell it to do something and it does, its relatively stable (I’ve capsized the D-Zero less times in 6 years less than my previous single-hander in a season), and I try hard on capsizing sailing regularly in 25-30knots, its simple to use and learn with, and we’re a great similarly minded fun load of sailors, that I really enjoy sailing with !

What can offer to CA members?

Continued support, we’re financially stable, always parts in stock ready to ship, sound advice from someone who sails the D-Zero, plus 10% discount. You just have to put up with my sense of humour and competitiveness…

Chrome rubber clothing was your fashion tip for 2019. What can we expect to see you sporting in 2021?

The chrome was fantastic – I use the excuse I nearly became an ice cube at Rossendale and then the chrome rubber warmed me at the Dales, though I’m just checking out the colour trends and styles currently (covid lockdown ideas are just emerging in Vogue Runway), it’s hard being a D-Zero fashion icon (and obviously a god to Zippy), though watch this space, though I think back on what Rihanna told me – “They can beat me, but they cannot beat my outfit”  

I think it’s best if we end there.

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