Which antifoul paint to buy – Basic Choices

Antifouling paints can be divided into three basic categories. It is essential to understand them before narrowing down further and choosing a specific antifoul for your boat.

Premium Racing Antifouling

Favoured by fanatical racers with deep pockets, this stuff is very expensive and is about having a hull surface that is as smooth as possible . It might have some kind of claimed magic friction reducing properties. The paint will be a very thin film an eights or tenths the thickness of normal antifoul. Boats will be frequently lifted, hauled or dried out and scrubbed and burnished to maintain an optimal bottom finish. Enthusiastic crew will always be eager to dive in the water and lovingly sponge the bottom clean. Best for the skipper that considers using Gosport’s Sealift’s One Hour Lift, Clean & Relaunch service as normal as going to the car wash…

Examples: VC17, Baltoplate, Veneziani Speedy Carbonium, Hempel Silic One

Hard Antifouling

This traditional type of antifoul comes in many variants and its qualities means it remains an attractive choice for many sailors. Like it’s premium priced racing brethrens, it is hard enough to withstand regular wiping downs without removal of substantial quantities of paint – so it is favoured by some racing sailors. Because it is resistant to abrasion and erosion it is ideal for boats on drying moorings. Because the biocide, rather than the paint itself, gradually leaches away, this type of paint is not dependent on movement to be effective. This means that this type of paint can be a great choice for boats that are seldom used. It is also good for very fast boats where if used an ablative antifoul would be quickly worn away….

The main disadvantage of hard antifoul is paint build up. As the paint does not wear away, layers of paint will accumulate season after season on top of each other. Eventually this accumulated paint reaches critical mass, becoming so thick it begins to crack and peel, necessitating a complete stripping of the hull. This is always a gruesome and arduous job

Examples: Boero Altura 619, International Interspeed Ultra / Ultra EU, Hempel Hard Racing

Self-Eroding Antifouling

A great choice for the club racer who races his boat every weekend. This is also a great choice for the cruising sailor who sails a lot. This type of antifoul is designed around movement and the yacht actually being used. A chemical reaction combined with the physical movement of water across the hull triggers the formulation to erode. This erosion sheds growth that might have started to build up on the hull and at the same time exposes fresh biocide. As the paint gradually erodes there is little or no build up of paint over time. Think of a bar of soap that gradually wears away with use… Some bluewater sailors are worried that they do to many miles for this type of paint …

Examples: International Micron Extra, International Cruiser Uno, Hempel’s Ocean Performer, Seajet 033 Shogun