By Airwaves Writer Taylor Penwell
Zim Sailing, a sponsor and team member with Sail1Design, is a sail boat manufacturer that is breaking the molds compared to other sailing manufacturers in the dinghy industry. Based out of Warren, Rhode Island, Zim Sailing was founded by former Vanguard employee Steve Perry after Vanguard was bought out by Laser Performance. Steve Perry saw an opportunity to start a new small boat manufacturing company that would differentiate itself from other competitors.
After leaving Vanguard, Steve called on many of his long time industry partners and relationships to help him get the company started. Where in the world did “ZIM” come from? The name Zim Sailing is an acronym based on the name of the company’s sister factory in China: Zou Inter Marine. In 2009 Steve purchased molds from C420 and CFJ classes and began testing and building his own brand of boats. After he was granted approval from the classes, Steve started delivering the Zim Sailing C420s with his personal car and in the same year moved his office from his kitchen table at home into a small 1600 sq. ft. contractor space. Steve has been working to bring more and more of the company’s production capacity to the United States each year.
Since 2009 Zim Sailing’s reach has grown tremendously but still has only thirteen employees total in the United States, including the 4 USA based boat builders. Zim Sailing prides itself on these thirteen employees’ abilities as top experts in their respective fields to have the knowledge and personal experience to deliver the best products and services in the industry to the customer. The company has been constantly expanding and moving into new sailing markets. Zim Sailing carries boats for all levels of sailing, from the grassroots level, recreational sailing, green fleet optimists, all the way up to collegiate sailing. Zim Sailing is sure to keep all these markets in mind with every move they make as a business.
Zim Sailing now carries 14 brands of sailboats, 9 of which they build:
Zim 15 * 420E Megabyte * Hartley Boats
C420 * Collegiate 420 * 29er Bic SUPs
CFJ * Collegiate FJ * World Wide Sailor Pram
Opti Byte * RS Sailing Boats
*made in the USA
Zim Sailing keeps a large inventory of all the parts needed for the boats they provide. Having this large inventory in-house allows them to have this large array of products, in contrast to some other market problems at the moment. “We build centerboards, daggerboards, rudders here so there is not shortage or wait when an order comes in for parts. If an order is called in they have the ability to ship it out in the same day and get it to the customer in the same week.” Having this large supply of stock, Zim Sailing can get parts to you pretty immediately which is not something the market is used to because the industry standard takes much longer to process and ship the same types of orders. “This is one of the main ways we set ourselves apart from other companies. “
Reasons for going with Zim Sailing:
- Quality products
- Product line/offering
- Parts and gear availability
- Customer service
When asked what Zim Sailing prides itself on the company Marketing Executive Laura Beigel said, “Our product offering is one and our parts inventory is another. The range of boats that we carry are multifunctional which gives the customer more bang for their buck. For example, we work with sailing programs all over the country who are seeking boats that can be used in classes with sailing students of all different skill levels, from learn to sail for kids and adults to adventure classes or racing classes. This is one way were are able to offer such affordable options to our customers all the time. We try to give them something that is versatile. The other thing we distinguish ourselves on is the quality of our boats. They are crafted by hand and quality control checked after every stage of production, then QC checked a few more times during the finishing stages before they leave the warehouse. Every detail matters to us. ”
Only 3 warranty claims have ever been made on Zim Sailing boats since the founding of the company. A truly amazing accomplishment.
If you go to a Club 420 or Optimist regatta in the states there is a high chance you will see a Zim Sailing charter boat trailer there. Zim Sailing is a national sponsor for US Sailing and the USODA, along with the Junior Sailing Olympic Festivals. Chartering boats at these high level events has helped market the Zim Sailing brand of boats.
In the years to come the sky’s the limit for Zim Sailing. One of their short term goals is to is to get a lot better at what we are already doing. “To improve upon what we have got as far as the service in concerned, we are constantly evaluating the products to ensure we are offering exactly what people want and what people need,” says Beigel. Another is to make sure Zim Sailing has everything in stock people need and continually work to project things customers might want or need in the future. Another goal is to manage the growth and to manage it well to continue to deliver the best products and service to the customer as they expand their business.
Zim Sailing sees itself as an up and coming company in a market that is lacking a bit in many places and is changing the game as they say, and that is something they want to continue to work on moving forward is to break all those stereotypes about untimely processing of orders and lack of inventory. “We seek to be the ‘go to’ resource for everyone for anything in the sailing industry and to be counted on for making it possible to get everyone on the water sailing.”
To learn more about Zim Sailing and what they can do for you go to their website at,