Industry Update with Zim Sailing

Published on September 8th, 2016

The health of our sport relies on enthusiastic sailors and reliable suppliers. For the small boat sailor, USA-based Zim Sailing has grown to be that vital source for boats and equipment. Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck caught up with Zim Sailing’s VP of Sales Bob Adam for an update…


Bob Adam

Explain the company name.
ZIM stands for Zou Inter Marine. That is the manufacturer that Steve Perry partnered with in 2008 when he went into business. Zim has always been pretty catchy and well received. The only downside is that we get listed last in the Notice of Race for charters.

Zim Sailing initially began as a distributor?
Right, and now today we manufacture and distribute. We own the tooling and manufacture the C420, CFJ, Byte CII, Megabyte and Zim 15. Our Optimist and the bulk of our C420’s are manufactured in China by Zou. We are the North American distributer for Hartley Boats and the 29er and we are the east coast distributer for RS Sailing, all of which come from England.

In short, we live in a global economy and we take advantage of working with the best partners in the world. We are in daily communication with our partners and spend 4-6 weeks a year traveling the world to their factories making sure the quality remains at the highest level.

Let’s hit the fast forward button. Where are we today?
We recently moved into a 24,000 square foot facility in Warren, RI which has allowed us to have our offices, retail, warehouse and manufacturing under one roof. Prior to this move, our manufacturing had been at a separate location 3 miles away from our main facility. This past spring we began supplementing our offshore production of C420’s with production in our new facility. This is a big deal as we’ve become the only manufacturer for both youth and college boats – CFJs and C420s – in the United States.

That is a big deal!
We think so and we hope yacht clubs and colleges think so too. Six years ago it was just Steve and I and today we employ 15 people in operations, sales and manufacturing. Many of our components are manufactured locally which helps support the local economy. We are very proud that although most of our C420’s are made in China, they are 67% made in the USA.

But that’s not all you’re doing.
One of our coolest boats is the ZIM 15. The hull was designed by Steve Clark and we partnered with North Sails and Southern Spars. From concept to completion took only 9 months for us to have 24 boats racing at the US Team Race Championships in 2014 which was amazing. It has been used each year since and the competitors have really taken to a skiff being used for team racing. It has already been the chosen equipment for the 2017 Championships.

Our efforts to move dinghy sailing forward continues with our distribution of the 29er though the English builder Overton, which is the premier 29er manufacturer in the world. Skiff sailing has really gained momentum in the states and we are thrilled to be leading the way to support the growth.

RS Sailing has a full range of boats and is quickly becoming the standard throughout the world. While the RS Quest is leading the way in the training market the RS Aero is the new singlehander which makes sailing fun again. Camps and yacht clubs are all about the Hartley 10 & 12 for their learn to sail program.

In short, we offer the largest selection of training, recreational and performance boats under one roof in North America. We support each boat with an extensive inventory of parts and ship same day to minimize downtime and allow our customers to have a blast sailing our boats.

What’s going on with the RS Feva?

We really pumped about the doublehanded RS Feva and the class is holding the 2017 World Championship in Florida and junior programs across the country are catching on to why this class is so popular across the globe. Yes, it’s roto-molded, but it is also a well-conceived gateway for young people that have aged- or sized-out of Optis or Sabots and want to take the next step but are not ready for the C420 or 29er. There is no trapeze, just hiking, and it has an asymmetrical spinnaker. It works great for boys and girls as a race class and teaching platform regardless of the next boat they sail.

Tell us about the Blue Dragon.

Three years ago we started offering the Blue Dragon Pram which is the essentially a roto molded Opti. This comes from Denmark and has really caught on. It’s self-bailing and self-rescuing. When you right the boat after a capsize there’s no water in the bottom of the boat, and when you’re sailing along and water comes in, out it goes through the stern. The rig and foils are the same as an Opti but much more simple to include a sleeved sail. No sail ties! The roto-molded aspect is awesome as programs eliminate their maintenance staff.

What about providing charter boats at youth events?
We have made a significant commitment to providing this service. We’ve got a huge number of C420s, Opti’s, 29er’s and Zim 15’s that go around the country. This year, we had over 40 C420’s, 30 Opti’s, 24 Zim 15’s and a dozen 29er’s in our charter fleet which last year did over 200 charters.

Our Optimist trailer holds 30 Opti’s and our C420 trailer fits 10 boats on 2 racks which roll in and out of the trailer on a winch. We also have the standard 8 and 3 boat trailers which can be utilized in many ways. Yes, we do have a fleet of trucks driving over 40,000 miles each year to move them all about.

This year our team was spread across the country providing onsite support at nearly 100 events. Our divide and conquer strategy allows us to service our customers at 2 continental championships, 11 national championships, 20 regional championships, 6 advanced clinics/training camps, and dozens of local events.

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