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June 16, 2018 3 min read

Zhik Annual Conference

Zhik is a very young company when comparing it with competing top brands like Helly Hansen, Musto, Gill, yet they managed to gain a lot of traction first with Olympic Sailing - their initial target when they started in 2002, then Americas Cup, and now with Ocean Racing, noticeably sponsoring two boats of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, Dong Feng and Akzo Nobel.

To achieve such success, Zhik has hired very talented people over the years and invested heavily in Research & Development. As a result, not unlike Apple in Consumers Electronics, they delivered a game changing approach to sailing gear with new patented fabrics, new designs and new technologies. And they did so in a record time making sure their products were aligned with customers needs/desire.

The conference venue,Seamen’s Church Institute, was formed in 1919 “to protect, preserve and enhance the maritime culture of Newport and Narragansett Bay by providing education, hospitality and a safe haven for those who work, live and play on or by the sea.” 

Located in downtown Newport, it is facing Bowen’s Wharf, making it a central venue within walking distance of all the action - with a handy boat ride available to Fort Adams, hosting the Volvo Ocean Race Village.

Seamen's Church Institute
© wikipedia/National Register of Historic Places
2018 marks a new turn in Zhik development with the appointment of Piet Poelman as new CEO. 
This conference was a chance for most of us to meet him in person and learn about his vision for the future, all the while exchanging on our experience developing the brand.


Brand Development

The tone is set from the start: Zhik has been successful with the high level competition niche: now is the time to make the brand a staple for all the water and outdoor lovers.

This becomes clear with the presentation of the new collection, and the trends for the following years. Zhik thrives on quality and will therefore never sell or manufacture low cost products. But the occasional sailor doesn’t have the same need for all the bleeding edge technology than the Volvo Ocean Race crew that push their boat and bodies to the limit (and beyond).

Hence the introduction of a new line of products that will use the same fabrics and technologies that made Zhik famous, but with less attention to the extra detail that makes the difference in race or survival conditions, allowing for products adapted to each and everyone’s program, with a lower price tag.



By the end of 2019, each product family will carry two to three levels of excellence, from great to bleeding edge, fulfilling customers ranging from the occasional sailor to the extreme ocean racer.



In response to racing constraints in every conditions (from polar to tropical), Zhik has developed a wide range of products that will protect you from dehydration, sun, cold, moisture,… using a layer concept (base,middle and outer) that will favor ease of motion in every situation, thus reducing drastically energy loss. The 2018 collection offers new products and upgrades of existing lines that will bring more people to test products “made for water”. 

nymara on boat


Ecological Impact

Water sports are directly impacted by pollution, and the amount of garbage found in the oceans has reached alarming levels. And the sailing industry has been fossil fuel dependent for the past 50 + years, making “turning the tide” a long and painful process.

Zhik has been busy researching new ways to manufacture products that would be less fossil fuel dependent, starting with the packaging that is using less and less plastic, favoring instead(recycled)paper sleeves.

The trend in years to come will be to use more and more“eco-friendly” (recycled) materials, and develop new products that will not be fossil fuels dependent. 


Next episode: 

The Volvo Ocean Race : a real life lab for Zhik