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.
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.
All sounds like quite a lot of hard work and no quick fix…. Who would have thought?
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.
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!
DZero.co.uk 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 DZero.co.uk 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 DZero.co.uk 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”
The D-Zero Class will hold their AGM at 7pm on Saturday 23rd June 2018 at the Mount Batten Centre in Plymouth (or once we have finished our evening meal). This is the Saturday Evening of the 2018 National Championships. The current agenda is given below. If you have anything you wish to raise or wish to send your apologies please use the D-Zero Class Secretary contact form that can be found by clicking here.
The current Agenda is as follows:
Apologies for absence
Election of Officers for 2018 (please contact the Class Secretary if you feel you can give some time to help run the class)
Following the brilliant success of the D-Zero sales promotion, we are able to extend this offer from today until the 14th January 2018, or the first 20 new boats sold during this period.
We know some people missed out on the original promotion and are pleased to able to offer a second chance. This is positively the last chance, this will not happen again!
A recent delivery of new D-Zeros arriving from Devoti, with more on the way.
Don’t miss this opportunity to join the vibrant and nationally active D-Zero fleet! From to-day until the 14th January 2018, Suntouched are offering £1,000 (one thousand Pounds) discount from the list price of a new D-Zero, including any trolleys, covers and upgrades.
The D-Zero is recognised as being one of the most exciting of the new generation dinghies with appeal to all, from beginners to the most discerning experienced racers. With a choice of the standard sail or the smaller blue sail, a very wide weight range is covered for competitive sailing.
With fleets country wide, from Cornwall to Scotland, and a comprehensive regatta program, the racing sailor can enjoy the D-Zero experience.
The Grafham D-Zero Fleet ready for action. Photo Credit Wendy Horton
Sunday 20th March 2016 saw the Grafham D-Zero fleet coming out in force to enjoy the first sail of Spring. 11 boats made it out on the water with a few others choosing to wait for the weather to warm up a little more before venturing out.
All ready to sail. Photo Credit Wendy Horton
Neil Washington, Grafham D-Zero Fleet Captain says:
After a winter of mostly high winds, or no wind at all, it was nice to get a good forecast and see some boats out that had been sat in the dinghy park a while!
And out on the water enjoying some racing. Photo Credit Wendy Horton
Andrew Everitt, currently a Laser sailor borrowed a D-Zero for the day and reports on his D-Zero experience:
Like many others up and down the country, I’m your average club sailor and sail a Laser. I get my kicks out of good, friendly, close racing and trying my best to improve.
I turned up at the club Sunday with the intention of sailing my Laser in club racing. However, Neil Washington told me there was a spare D-Zero going and would I like to take it out. I jumped at the chance and was pleased to see that there was a fleet of 10 other D-Zeros to race with.
My first impression was just how comfortable the boat was. The sailing position felt very intuitive. Upwind it felt very good. Hiking was rewarded without being painful. I also found it felt like it pointed higher than my Laser and the Aero. Downwind I found the boat very stable and I was able to sail it just like a Laser – sailing by the lee and heeling to windward worked well. The reaches were exciting and the boat responded and accelerated quickly to pressure. Gybing was very pleasant as the boat felt very forgiving throughout them.
I found it much easier to shift my weight around on all points of sail, helped by the spacious, clutter free cockpit.
The D-Zero feels very well balanced and the hull weight feels to hit a sweet spot between a Laser and the Aero.
The only problem I had was catching the boom on tacking occasionally. I did heed Neil’s advice and found sticking my back leg well behind me helped me to get lower down.
So how did I feel after my first race? Very good as it happens, I got a third place out of 11 boats. Must have been (and did prove to be) beginners luck! Though it does show how achievable it is to move from a Laser to a D-Zero and very quickly become competitive. I enjoyed sailing the D-Zero so much that I stayed in it all day.
To read Andrews full report on the D-Zero Facebook page click here.
As the sailing year rolls on, the nights draw in and the temperature, inevitably, drops some classes finish their Open Circuit. Not so for us. With the Suntouched D-Zero Inland Championships still to come on the 10th/11th October there is still time to hitch your boat up and have some fun on the water.
For more details on the inlands click here. There has been significant interest and at least 15 people have indicated their attendance with a others waiting on the forecast before they make a final decision.
It was originally intended to hold the class AGM at the Inlands. This has been postponed until the Grafham Water SC Training and Open at the end of November (official notice of AGM to follow shortly).
Also the SailJuice Winter Series starts in November. A number of D-Zero sailors have indicated they will be attending various events. More details can be found here. There will be more on this from a class perspective in the upcoming events for November.
Purchase a new D-Zero from Suntouched Sailboats before 30th June 2015 and the D-Zero fleet at Grafham Water Sailing Club will welcome you by paying your club membership fees until 31st March 2016, utilising funding that they have secured to support the further expansion of their fleet.
Since inception in October 2014 the D-Zero fleet at Grafham Water Sailing Club has experienced rapid growth, with an average of 2 new boats joining the fleet every month. Attracted by the great sailing water which, at about 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide is one of the finest inland sailing venues in the UK, D-Zero sailors are now enjoying great fleet racing on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. The D-Zero fleet has attracted sailors from disparate fleets and fleet captain Neil Washington and the team at Grafham Water now wish to capitalise on this success by attracting new members to the club.
The membership deal is worth £218 in fees and the new member will be responsible for paying boat dues of £152 (with reductions for seniors (65+), youths (under 25) and juniors (under 18)) (Please note that this free membership offer is not available in conjunction with any other offers) For further information please contact David Summerville at Suntouched Sailboats:
Mandy getting ready to launch at the Grafham GP Photo Credit: Paul Jefferies
Following on from an extensive development program the second rig for the D-Zero is now available. It was always part of the plan for the D-Zero to have a rig that would cater for the lighter sailor and the plan to make that rig very distinctive from the standard rigs to avoid confusion. As you can see from the picture above the D-Zero Blue is certainly striking in colour. The owner of the first Blue rig to be sold, Mandy Horton from Grafham, has put together her first impressions of her new rig following on from the first outing at the recent Grafham Grand Prix.
Sunday 22nd February 2015 marked the first outing of the D-Zero blue rig in an event and the increasing wind forecast looked perfect for the occasion. The stunning bright blue sail started attracting attention from the minute it was out of the sail bag and it was complimented many times over the day for looking seriously cool!
In the first race, the wind hadn’t quite reached its full potential and there were a few moments upwind when I wondered if the bigger rig would have been more efficient but happily I managed to keep up with a number of the sailors with the grey rig. The rig felt nice and balanced upwind and still kept up with the pace downwind. As the wind increased for the second and third races, the advantage of the smaller rig for me was clear. Firstly, I was able to stay out and complete all three races! Not only that, I was actually able to stay within reasonably close reach of many of the other D-Zeros and enjoyed close racing with some in particular.
When the wind had reached its maximum of about 20knots, I was able to spill enough wind upwind to keep moving forward efficiently and downwind I absolutely flew! This was one of my concerns as I wondered whether having less power downwind would leave me trailing behind. It appeared not.
Overall, I was really pleased with the performance of the rig and the fact that it kept me out on the water to enjoy close racing. When the blue rig is given its own handicap, this will make it an even more attractive option for the lighter sailors in windier weather. Thanks to Rodney and David for helping me to sort the rig in time for the Grand Prix. I’m sure I would have only completed one race without it!