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”
I think it’s best if we end there.