Please select your home edition
Edition
Ocean Leisure 729x90

Ocean Leisure: The London Chandlery at the gateway to the South Coast

by Mark Jardine on 14 Dec 2016 14 December 2016
Ocean Leisure's Federico Da Sie © Mark Jardine

We spoke to Federico Da Sie about Ocean Leisure, London's Premiere Marine and Watersports Store. The team are all made up of watersports enthusiasts and experts, and we wanted to know what differentiated the store and how it had adapted in the online retail age.

Mark: Could you tell me a little about the history of Ocean Leisure?

Federico: Ocean Leisure is an independent shop that started in central London in 1985. We started as a diving and sailing shop and thirty years on everything around us has changed but we're still here. We've added other sports like triathlon and kayaking to our ranges, and every other kind of watersport that you can imagine.

Mark: Having a shop at Embankment, very close to Waterloo, do you find you get a large number of sailors who are heading to the South Coast from London?

Federico: Yes definitely. Obviously the position is the key factor for retailers, especially now. You have to be easy to find and to get to. Sailing-wise a lot of people that sail in Hamble are London-based. If they don't live here, at least they work here and pass here once a week. That is a key factor for us.

Mark: In the age of the internet, where everybody is ordering things online, what is the difference that you have that you can provide to customers, especially in the marine technical clothing market?

Federico: The main thing is always the service. In terms of service what I mean is that when you come here you have the opportunity to try everything of any brand that is on the market. On top of that, even if there is no stock the fact is that we have the best relationship possible with our suppliers. That means we can call the suppliers, find the stock for you and basically you can get everything that you want.

Mark: Do you find that generally sailors come in with an idea of exactly what item of clothing they want, or is it something where they might come in with an idea initially and once they've talked with your staff they might come out with a completely different product?

Federico: I think there are different kinds of sailors and different kinds of customer. There is the customer that already knows what they want, what there is, and we do sometimes have people who tell us exactly what they want. This kind of customer is the type who usually goes on the internet and buys items there because they already know what they want.

Often we have customers who might be beginners and they come here with an idea. Then they speak with the staff, who are not only trained but are sailing instructors or keen sailors, and at that point, after an hour of chat, we understand exactly what they need. Seeing everything that is on the market, often they end up buying something different to what they thought and sometimes even spending a bit less than what they were expecting.

Mark: Which are the main brands that you work with? Is a single particular brand your strongest or is it wide range?

Federico: The range is wide. In terms of sailing we have Gill, Musto, Henri Lloyd, Zhik, and then accessories from other suppliers such as SealSkinz and Dubarry in terms of boots. I like to say that we have all of the best brands.

Mark: One of the key areas on a campaigned yacht is where you have an owner who may want to kit out the entire crew. Can you provide this service?

Federico: Yes we can, and have done exactly this. While a big boat campaign can speak directly with the suppliers, we can find out from the owner or boat captain exactly what they need and give them an idea of everything that is on the market. Last month for example we went on a customer's boat, checked the size of everyone, they saw a sample of every single brand, we then checked the stock with each supplier. We are able to close the deal giving exactly what they wanted. Without that you have to spend a lot of time doing it yourself.

Mark: So this isn't just a service to an individual inside the shop, this is something where you go out there and provide a bespoke service for a yacht?

Federico: Yes, we are definitely moving in that direction. We've seen that where the customer is keen to have the best service possible and has recognised that having the best service possible means having the best people work for you. We are more than happy to provide this service.

Mark: With a job like this where you are talking sailing and giving advice on sailing, do you have much time for sailing yourself?

Federico: I find the time! Fortunately the owners of the company have been clear from the beginning; every one of us comes to Ocean Leisure with strong experience in the sport that they follow and they strongly believe if you carry on doing this sport you will be more in contact with where the market is and can also have a bit of fun as well.

Mark: You come from a competitive sailing background in Italy. What boats are you sailing at the moment?

Federico: Like many people, I progressed from dinghies and moved into keelboats. I sailed a lot under the IMS rating rule, which doesn't exist any more, and then on to one-designs such as the Farr 40 and Mumm 30. I was a professional sailor for ten years, than I moved to England because I married an English girl. Here I found this job which is connected with the sport that I love. At the moment, together with other friends, I am sailing in a Sigma 33 and we do many of the offshore races that are held in this country.

Mark: This year which events have you done?

Federico: This year we've just done a couple of races to France. But in the next couple of months we start our second Fastnet campaign. This will include all the RORC offshore races around the South Coast and English Channel, building up to the Rolex Fastnet Race in August.

Mark: Many thanks Federico, it's great to get an insight into how the Ocean Leisure team work.

Federico: Thank you.

Find out more at oceanleisure.co.uk and visit their store at 11-14 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5AQ. Full details on the Ocean Leisure Location page.

Related Articles

A look at the VX Evo
We speak to designer Brian Bennett Following on from the high performance VX One sportsboat, which has growing fleets around the world, Brian Bennett has designed the VX Evo, a singlehanded asymmetric dinghy. We spoke to Brian to find out more about the boat. Posted on 26 Apr
Interview with Ellie Wootton and Issie Speirs
Team Allen sailors move from Cadets to 420s We spoke to Ellie Wootton and Issie Speirs, Team Allen sailors in the 420 class, about how they first started sailing, their time in Cadets, being part of Team Allen, who their sailing heroes are, and how their coaches have inspired them. Posted on 24 Apr
500 miles non-stop in a dinghy
We talk to Mark Belamarich MBE and Phil Slade Mark Belamarich MBE and Phil Slade hold the Guinness World Record for the longest distance sailed in a double handed dinghy, when they sailed non-stop from Plymouth to Portsmouth, via the French coast: a voyage of 309 nautical miles. Posted on 19 Apr
Is the F In Fun going to be lacking in the future?
David Henshall discusses what's gone wrong Thanks to the amazing golden efforts in the 470 of Hannah Mills crewed by Saskia Clark and Giles Scott in the Finn, the UK, via the RYA, could once again claim to be the 'most successful nation' at the Rio Olympics. Posted on 10 Apr
The Art of Foils
SoftBank Team Japan's Nick Holroyd explains all What secrets lie underwater on an America's Cup Class race yacht? Take a look as we dive into the art of foils... Posted on 7 Apr
From 37 years old to like new
We speak to Roger Proctor about re-activating Toppers We spoke to Roger Proctor, son of Ian Proctor who designed the Topper dinghy, about a new scheme to re-activate old Toppers and get them back out on the water. Posted on 5 Apr
The Lark class at 50
We speak to Class Chairman Nigel Scott It's hard to believe that the Larks are celebrating their 50th Anniversary, but I found the class very much has its eyes on the future rather than reminiscing about past glories... Posted on 4 Apr
Interview with Team Allen's Megan Pascoe
Reigning 2.4mR World and European Champion We recently spoke with Team Allen's Megan Pascoe, the reigning 2.4mR World and European Champion, about the diverse 2017 season she has lined up, having the support of Allen Brothers, Paralympic sailing, and steps to increase participation in the sport. Posted on 3 Apr
A Legend Returns
Keith Musto OBE aims to become oldest ever Olympian 2017: Keith Musto, founder of industry leading sailing brand Musto, has revealed an astonishing return to sailing at the age of 81, as he is announced as part of British Sailing Team squad and is looking to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Posted on 1 Apr
Developing products with Gul
We speak to B14 & Merlin Rocket sailor Mark Barnes We spoke to B14 and Merlin Rocket sailor Mark Barnes about the sponsorship arrangement he has with Gul, how this helps him in his sailing, the feedback he gives to Gul on product, and what he and the B14 class have lined up for the 2017 season. Posted on 31 Mar