A dozen of the leading antifouling paints are put to the test and rated by MBY in The Solent and the Mediterranean
How we tested them
To ensure our testing methodology was as accurate and reliable as possible we based it on advice from industry experts both before and during the test.
We picked three different locations to conduct our testing, one on the East Coast, one in the Solent and one in the Mediterranean and prepared separate boards for each area. The boards were made from marine plywood, sealed with oil-based paint to replicate the gel coat of the hull and then primed using an industry standard primer.
The board was marked out with 10 defined areas and a different antifoul paint applied to each strip. The two silicon based paints were applied to two smaller boards as we wanted to monitor these separately. The test panels were then left in our chosen locations over the 2015 season.
The two UK locations are tidal, so had a constant knot or two running past, while the Mediterranean location was a marina on the Spanish coast, giving us real world results.
Once lifted, we studied the colour change, fouling build-up and type of growth. We then ran a finger over each panel to see how securely the fouling was attached and whether it might wash off on a planing boat with regular cruising at 20 knots or more. Finally we washed each board to replicate a scrub and see how well the fouling and the paint lasted.
Static board tests are often criticised for only portraying boats that are left in the marina untouched for the entire season. However, this is still the preferred method of conventional antifouling paint manufacturers as most boats are left in the water all season, only going out a handful of times and rarely being driven hard for more than a few minutes at a time.
Flag Performance £56.06
As its name suggests, it’s designed for use on performance craft but is actually a ‘semi-hard’ paint that is partially dissolvable in water.
Its hard properties mean that it’s capable of withstanding 40-knot speeds, but it will also dissolve in the water, so it should be suitable for most planing motor boats with average cruising hours.
COLOUR FASTNESS: 2/5
Despite being called white, it started life as a very light purple colour. During the season it went quite badly turquoise, showing the copper additive.
There was no sign of any weeds or barnacles at all in any of the locations. Even in the thickest slime patches, there wasn’t any hint of weed growth suggesting the biocides were doing their job effectively.
SLIME CONTROL: 3/5
There was no real format to the slime presentation on the panel of Flag Performance Extra, with patches of heavier slime in different areas of each panel. None of the patches were particularly thick, though.
WASH TEST: 4/5
The finger test removed all but the most stubborn patches of slime, showing that even a slow cruise would clean the boat’s hull effectively. Some gentle pressure from the hose removed most of the remaining growth, leaving a fairly clean panel.
The hybrid make-up seemed to work well in our test, showing that despite being designed to handle high speeds, it still coped well in a marina environment. This would be a good paint for a boat that gets an average amount of use each season.