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Will VS721 BOTTOM COAT Violate Racing Rules?

  Skipper

Rick B. asked:

Looking over the Racing Rules of Sailing, rule 53 states “A boat shall not eject or release a substance, such as a polymer, or have specially textured surfaces that could improve the character of the flow of water inside the boundary layer.”

Would I be violating this rule using VS721 BOTTOM COAT?

Answer:
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I know of other racers, power and sail, that are using VS721 Bottom Coat as a protective polish and anti-fouling. It just happens to have some interesting side benefits. It works mechanically not chemically. Instead of leaching toxic biocides into the water to kill marine life before it can attach to your hull, VS721 Bottom Coat presents a very slippery surface so marine life can not attach. The surface becomes more slippery than water and gives most boats a performance benefit, such as better light air performance, higher top speed, easier and faster tacking or cornering, better fuel economy, etc.

VS721 Bottom Coat is completely inert and stable. It does not eject or release anything into the waterway. That’s why it’s environment friendly. There is no special or unusual texture from using VS721 Bottom Coat. I understand that this rule does not apply to protecting your boat by polishing, waxing or applying antifouling paint, if applicable. In this case you would be legal by applying an anti-fouling coating or protective polish of VS721 Bottom Coat.

I believe that Rule 53 resulted from 2 incidents. One was a Trans Atlantic race where one of the contestants drilled holes in the bow of his boat and had a polymer generator in the boat pumping a green polymer through the holes. This flowed along the hull and reduced the friction at the boundary layer. It left a trail several miles long behind the boat, very visible from aircraft overhead. This device was dubbed the "snot machine" because of the green trail. I don’t remember if he won, but I do remember the hue and cry from the environmentalists over this one.

The second was from one of the America Cup boats trying to dimple the hull like a golf ball. A dimpled golf ball will travel further through the air than a smooth one. I don’t remember all the details but I don’t think they ever got it to work. Apparently the reaction between water and fiberglass is different than air and whatever the surface material of a golf ball is. Also, golf balls spin as they travel and it is better if a boat does not do that. At any rate they could not get the boat to fly through the air, no matter how hard they hit it with a golf club. It also took a long time and cost a lot of money to form all the dimples in a precise pattern with a Dremel.

In summary, find out if there is any restriction against waxing, polishing or anti-fouling your boat. If not, you’re legal. If so, how do you stop degradation of you boat from sun, fouling etc. For that matter are you allowed to clean your boat and can you use a soap or detergent? I understand that the intent of the rule was to stop the crazies, not advancement of the sport.

Thanks for your question,
Captain Aurora

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