New dude on the block

Australian dinghy wear brand Zhik moves into the northern hemisphere
Tucked away in one of the halls at METS – the trade equipment show, was a new dinghy wear brand to our Northern hemisphere eyes. Zhik (pronounced ‘zike’) is coming into its third season on the market and heralds from Sydney and is the brainchild of passionate Australian Laser sailor Brian Conolly. He, like many in the business, has left his rather technical desk job which he says can be summed up as: “Coming up with digital signal processing for audio processors and licensing signal processing algorithms to consumer electronics companies” to create a new niche brand in his familiar sailing world. Zhik is targeted at what Conolly calls “the fast wet athlete” and is refreshing in its Southern hemisphere approach to dinghy sailing with several standout products in its range. In a brusque sort of Aussie way Conolly sums up his view of the current wetsuit marketplace: “In sailing there are definitely laggards when it comes to materials in wetsuits and we have put a lot of effort into designing materials for sailors – not just grabbing surf wear type style products. What we have done is look at the problems from first principles rather than just try to use other traditional materials that are out there.” The suits come in two core materials – the Superwarm and the Microfleece and are based around sailing in cold water, or sailing in warm water, irrespective of the season. The Superwarm is a four layer material with a nylon outer, super stretch neoprene, a reflective titanium layer and next to the skin a micro fleece thermal layer. The Microfleece drops the titanium layer and all up is just 1.8mm thick. “The water actually works in your favour when it is warm,” comments Conolly, “both in summer and winter. In summer is a cooling effect and