Multihulls Match

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The Multihulls World Match is an open forum, a place for freedom of speech, open to those involved in yachting on more than one hull.
As usual in this section, no-one is right or wrong, but more that we’re providing a place for opinions held dear.
This month’s question: which bottom paint should you choose for your multihull? Antifouling protection for multihulls can be a real headache for boatowners, and it’s the subject of much animated debate… The products we discuss here are not the cheapest on the market, but they offer an alternative between an environmentally friendly system and a traditional top-of-the-range product. There will be different testimonials from others using different systems. One general rule: beyond the intrinsic quality of the products, the care taken in preparation and application affects the result. Let’s see!

FOR A COPPER-BASED SYSTEM By Pascal Masson, head of Chantier Naval des Venétes boatyard, French Coppercoat importer

Our entire business is concentrated around the question of antifouling bottom paint and concern for the environment. With this in mind, in 2006 I decided to become a distributor for Coppercoat in France. Created in the UK in 1991, this antifouling remains effective ten years after application and seems to me to have made life easier for leisure boaters. Not having to repaint every year eliminates a chore, and leads to substantial savings, allowing the boat to be maintained afloat. Coppercoat is an absolute blessing for cruising multihull owners who often struggle to find facilities where they can be hauled out. Unknown at first, the product received a skeptical welcome. We had to explain how it worked, and overcome a few preconceived doubts: No, it’s not a miracle product; it consists of an epoxy resin which incorporates copper powder. There’s no need to apply antifouling for several years, but you do still have to clean the hull once a year. Yes, it really does work, and yes, it’s legal. Coppercoat is authorized for use in France, as in the rest of the world, even in the most regulated areas such as California or the Baltic. The effectiveness and longevity of the system are now well-known here, thanks in part to long-term users such as Philippe Jeantot and the Tournier Marine shipyard. User satisfaction has generated excellent awareness of the product by word of mouth, and the experience has allowed us to refine and test a reliable application method which must be followed to the letter. The hull must be stripped absolutely clean. Next, a primer is necessary, before applying 4 coats of Coppercoat using a roller. These must all be done in the same day. It’s then essential to wait until it is completely dry (several days) before splashing again. Following these instructions, and the maintenance advice, is one of the reasons we sell direct to customers who wish to do the work themselves. The same goes for boatyards, some of whom we’ve been working with for a long time and have excellent knowledge of the product, but we offer our expertise and our advice for every situation. To give an example, a TS42 catamaran requires 12 liters of Coppercoat, which costs around €1,500, including tax but not labor. Lots of boaters are now convinced by the product, as are professionals who understand the advantages for their business and have made the switch. We also count Ifremer (the French institute for marine exploration) among our clients, as well as professional fishermen, and ever increasing numbers of charter companies or boat renters in France and the Caribbean.

Multihulls Match Antifouling

Testimonial from Régis Guillemot, the famous French sailor who now runs a Caribbean charter company:

“We have been using Coppercoat for 4 years now and have gained experience in how to apply it as well as the results and upkeep for our 38 catamarans treated with Coppercoat in the Caribbean. Today we would never go back to a biocide-based antifouling. The first reason of course is that it is 100% non-polluting; the second is the cost saving in terms of haulouts, the time saving and procuring products. You can have a permanently clean hull, though the product does require maintenance every six months (especially here in tropical waters) by wiping with a sponge or squeegee to remove any slime, and this comes off very easily. Simply rubbing it by hand, we find it returns straight away to how it was when it went in the water. Once a year we reactivate the copper using a 180 or 360-grit abrasive paper. Correct application ensures success with the product. On new boats it is essential to start from sanded gelcoat, and with a secondhand boat, the hull must be stripped right back - antifouling and primer. Then the manufacturer-recommended primer must be applied, and the Coppercoat applied within the specified timescale, without sanding, as it adheres via a chemical process. The instructions must be scrupulously followed. Any dampness is to be avoided, and the finish needs to be lightly sanded to activate the copper 48 hours after application before the boat is relaunched.” (Régis Guillemot applies Coppercoat by spraying - something difficult for an individual owner to do, as a spray booth or tent is required for this operation. Ed.)

Multihulls Match Antifouling

FOR AN EFFECTIVE TRADITIONAL SYSTEM By Richard Gibeaud, AGL Marine commercial director and exclusive distributor to marine industry professionals for Seajet antifouling.

Why choose a traditional antifouling? Because this choice comes out as the most simple with the minimum hassle for our customers, while offering the best technical option for their program. The equation has two unknowns which don’t leave anything to chance, but more to molecular chemistry! Antifouling paint is not magic, despite certain claims of results comparable to washing powders which wash whiter than white! With traditional antifoulings, there are two major distinctions. The first is hard antifouling, where the biocides contained in the product leech out through the paint surface, then to the water. The other solution is ablative paint, or eroding antifoul, and it’s in this category we find two Seajet technologies. One comprising a water-soluble copolymer matrix which allows the ablation (eroding) of top layers of antifouling as the vessel moves through the water (hydration). The other involves the gradual release of biocides, even if the vessel is not moving (hydrolysis), and this is the technology found in Seajet’s famous Platinum 039. To obtain the best results, it’s important to respect the number of applications and the thickness. This will guarantee an effective lifetime for the product. Seajet Platinum antifouling is a technical product which requires correct surface preparation and the right primer. Today our researchers are looking for more environmentally friendly chemical formulae, and we are beginning to reach that goal. Evolution of the product has been steered by legislation leading us to modify our formulation to create a more ecologically sound paint without detracting from its performance. To our competitors who advocate the use of a permanent antifouling paint, I would say that it’s still necessary to reactivate the biocide, of whatever type, so it’s not as magical as all that! Either you need to dive on the hull, or get the boat out of the water!

Multihulls Match Antifouling

Testimonial from Bruno Mabire, skipper of Magic Cat (a fast 25m Ollier-Multiplast catamaran engaged in charter. He has been sailing the world for two years, and is boat is treated with Seajet Premium 039 high performance antifouling in gray):

“In May 2015 in Antigua, we chose to go with a traditional bottom paint with exceptional qualities, given that we were about to set off from the Caribbean for Polynesia, the Marquesas and the Tuamotus for a charter season, then the Caribbean again for another season there, then back to France and another summer season in the Mediterranean in Greek and Croatian waters.
During this demanding trip, there’s been no compromise in performance, and maintenance has been minimal, so as to not wear away the ablative surface. Returning to Sète in the South of France for overwintering, we went into the dry-dock to discover the hulls were clean and still covered by their layer of Platinum Gray. This would have lasted another season, but we are setting off on a round-the-world program, and want to be protected again for another 2 years, with 3 coats of Seajet Platinum 039.”

Multihulls Match Antifouling

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