Reading my last entry about the nicely done 38-feet classic sailboat Eagle 38 by Leonardo Yachts, I thought it might be a nice little trick to deliver another “vintage” boat right away as seen during Duesseldorf Boat Show 20204 – Black Pepper Yachts through their Dutch dealer had their entry level boat on display, the Code 0. She was a little bit hidden behind the Dufour stand, nevertheless, a really interesting boat and shipyard concept, worth to take a detailed look at.

Planning hull, large rigging: Code 0

Black Pepper Yachts has been founded back in 2007 by a guy named Michel Douville du Franssu. The shipyard is based in Nantes and has made itself a name since its inception. The brand might most be known by the IMOCA racing boats of which they have made three by now: “L´Occitane en Provence” which is now “Bureau Valée”, “Initiatives-Coeur” and their latest inception is Phil Sharp´s “OceansLab”. But there´s more to the company.

A fine sharp entry

As on display, their fleet of boats available to a wider range of people comprises the Monohulls, from Code 0, 1, 2 and 3. These are as they call it “vintage racer cruisers” from 21 feet (as seen in this article), to 44 feet (with foils!) – their “vintage weekender”, impressive 65 feet and finally, the monohull-flagship, the impressive 82 feet Code 3. Apart from their monohull yachts, Black Pepper comes up with an interesting 70-foot performance catamaran concept. Well, lots to offer …

A modern vintage racer

So, let´s see what the smallest of their products has to offer. First of all, all Black Pepper Yachts are completely made of Carbon. Their knowledge gained in developing and making boats for all-out IMOCA-racing is therefore transferred into any other product they make. The small daysailer is no exception from that.

Open stern, tiller steering

The hull is a wide-sterned planning hull with a sharp fine entry. It´s a bit irritating because this particular boat, the Code 0 is no longer in build by the shipyard, it has been replaced by an updated version called Code 0.1 some time ago. Anyways, both are very similar in design, the current boat features a slightly inverted bow and a pronounced sheerline. In any case, those boats can “fire up” and fly, I´d say, looking at the bare numbers.

Nice vintage retro looks

The Code 0.1 carries 59 square meters of upwind sails area at just 2.400 kilograms of weight! Comparing this to the smaller Dehler 30 OD, she is half a ton lighter. Or the Saffier 37, which is a bit longer, but also comes in with 4.8 tons. No comparison – Carbon fibers and absolute focus on lightweight building rules. This boat is a true performer by its DNA.

A wolf in sheep´s clothing

Don´t be fooled by her classy appearance. As the shipyard says, the “neo-classical vintage look” is a bow to the golden times of daysailing, gentlemen races and distinguished club racing. Nevertheless, the boat is made out of and with the most modern materials available. As we go around the boat and check her fittings, we just cannot find cheap or price-sensitive compromises.

Only the good stuff …

At this particular morning, it was roughly one hour until the boat show opened its doors to the general public, I walked along the displays together with my dear colleague. He is a skilled boat builder having accomplished his formal training to becoming a boatbuilder craftsman at Hanse Yachts, later on working on special projects of Michael Schmidt himself. So, he kind of knows what´s been done right and what has been done a bit more lavishly. Usually he shows me those little “nasty” details and explains where a colleague tried to save time or the shipyard tried to save some money. With Code 0, he really looked and tried hard, but couldn’t find any shortcuts or “nasty details”.

Massive wooden fittings

Of course, yachts and boats made of Carbon are special. This is my personal impression. There is a very own touch and feel to the haptics of Carbon, the sound when walking on a Carbon deck or knocking at the hull is very different. I do not really like the details of Carbon-made boats, as they are rarely smoothed out and completely leveled. You always see some inconsistencies or rougher details. It´s the same with aluminium yachts, where the material has its own feel to it. But that is just a personal thing. People buying such a boat do it because of the special properties of lightweight fibers, not for smoothly leveled surfaces.

Racing boat DNA

Going down below deck reveals the internal volume of a 30-footer. The massive stringers and frames on the floor quickly remind you of the performance aspect of this boat. Typical for yachts of this use-case, those aren´t an obstacle, but a quality sign. The salon itself – in this particular boat – has been designed with massive colorful contrasts. I am sure an owner can choose a more soothing environment, colors-wise.

Down below

As the material properties and thus the stiffness of a carbon monohull bring with them, there are no bulkheads built in. The boat is open from bow to stern with all structural elements open. I like this approach as it makes the boat appear much bigger visually, a concept I pursue in my own new boat as well. For a small daysailer like the Code 0 (or now, Code 0.1) this can be advantageous. Imagine a cold and grey rainy day in harbor: Being forced to sit inside, a boat that open will be much more tolerable, even more when there´s a crew of a few people.

More than a Daysailer

The Code 0 is more than a daysailer. She offers plenty of sleeping space. The fore “cabin”, thanks to a relatively wide bow (even with the narrow entry, it gets wider pretty soon), offers two generously sized bunks in V-berth configuration. Of course, the hull has no windows at all apart from the hatches overhead, so it´s a bit “dark” inside.

A nicely sized front berth

Guests and crew can have also very nicely sized aft berths in the two “cabins” situated at the other end of the boat. Again, as there are no hull windows, only a small tinted window to the aft end of the cockpit will allow some natural light to enter. This can be good if you seek a dark atmosphere to find a god night´s sleep, many will miss it, I´m sure. I find myself “missing” hull windows in my new Omega 42 too as I am accustomed to those glorious windows from modern cruising yachts too …

Sufficient space aft

The Code 0 comes with a nice little galley that has everything for preparing some food for the crew: Some stowage for basic utensils, crockery and pots, a sink, a little fridge. Although a boat like this is more likely to be used for daysailing and as a classic weekender, 30 feet is a considerable boat size that offers at least some minimal cruising amenities, I call it #microcruising. Of these, the Code 0 boat is definitely superior to the comforts my old First 27 SE had to offer, most of them in the galley and WC.

The mini-galley

As for the galley, however, the solution to place the one flame burner in the opposite side of the galley right between head and aft berth seems a bit awkward: This is very, very cramped and there is virtually no ventilation through an opening hatch. In the new Code 0.1 this has been fully solved: The head went to the usual location with the new galley positioned in front of it, which is much better. The starboard aft cabin is therefore right next to the head, which is awkward but nothing all too special in racing-optimized boats.

Maybe not the best location …

Same for the head, which in the exhibited version is a single “room” placed right into the salon. It is indeed large enough to offer privacy when going along doing private things in here, but much smaller than the head in the updated 0.1-version. When changing the starboard aft cabin to stowage, you win a big room to put away spare parts, equipment and sails. I guess the customer´s feedback supposedly called for less berths and more comforts.

A slim head

In any case, the boat´s interior is kind of sparse, reduced to the most important parts. Almost no decorative elements, no heavy elements which would compromise the lightweight approach at all, but therefore much space to add individual touches, colorful accessoires or touches by the owners. Checking the Code 0.1 on the website, I am re-assured that the yard offers some more eye-friendly colors than Black-Red-White …

Mini-Yacht meets Vendeé Globe

The Code 0 is a very interesting boat. She certainly is very performant and quick, she must be much fun to sail both in spare time and in racing. Acknowledging the engagement of the Dutch dealer to take on the huge costs of exhibiting this boat during Boot Duesseldorf, it is kind of sad that the shipyard itself did not take the chance to show off what they are doing. The whole background of their history, their IMOCA- and Carbon-competence and of course the wide range of products available for “ordinary” sailors simply wasn´t on display. I know how much a display costs in Duesseldorf, but this was a chance missed by the French guys.

Certainly a very special boat

The Code 0 is a Marc Lombard-design, which makes me a bit sad additionally. This legendary French designed went way too early last year which was a shock. Seeing his design makes me smile a bit but also remember this calm, friendly guy and his wide range of boats, which have all one thing in common: Hulls made to deliver the most sailing fun and quick performance. The Code 0 is certainly of this breed.


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Taken right out of “Star Wars”: Neo 570

IMOCA-watching at La Base in Lorient

“Carbon fibers don´t like slamming”