A dozen of the leading antifouling paints are put to the test and rated by MBY in The Solent and the Mediterranean

Flag Cruising £34.08

MBY antifouling test May 2016

FLAG Cruising is a budget-priced, copper-based paint designed for displacement boats that rarely exceed 8 knots. It is self-eroding so will slowly wear away during the season

Being a soft paint, it may not be suitable for planing boats that are used regularly. However, unlike the other self-eroding paints, no paint came off when we cleaned it, suggesting that it’s harder than average.

This started off as an off-white pink, but by the end of the season the area above the waterline had graduated into a strong turquoise colour.

This worked well in our Mediterranean location but not so well in the UK. The East Coast wasn’t too bad but the Solent had the preliminary signs of weed growth.

The slime at the East Coast location was patchy towards the waterline, but built up thicker further down. At the Solent location the heaviest slime was at the waterline, with only patches of slime further down. There was little slime at the Mediterranean section.

The finger test removed some of the slime but the bottom layer was well attached and proved quite difficult to shift. Washing the panels with a hose removed some but not all of the growth around the edges, suggesting that the passage of a boat through the water wouldn’t be enough to shift it all.

FLAG Cruising didn’t perform as well as some but it is very affordable
and may have worked better with a little more movement than the couple of knots of tide in our locations. The degree of colour change may also be an issue if you need a white antifouling.

Hempel Hard Racing £112.50


As its name suggests this is a hard paint. It is suited to fast boats and can be sanded back to give a smooth finish for less friction in the water. As with most hard paints, its performance will gradually tail off over time

Hard paints give the best durability, and this one is particularly recommended for fast boats and those that dry out, given that it won’t wear out easily.

Being black, the Hempel paint was less likely to show a colour variation than the white paints, but looking closely we could see a hint of blue coming through around the waterline of the Solent panel.

There were no signs of barnacles on the panels in any of the locations, but the slime in the East Coast and Solent locations had started to form weed patterns, suggesting that over a longer season some weed might have grown.

This paint performed well in the Mediterranean location with little slime growth, but in both UK sites there was significant slime build-up. If the boat was used regularly as intended, the slime wouldn’t have had as much time to build up.

Running a finger across the panel didn’t remove much slime build-up. More sustained pressure from the hose did remove it, giving a decent final result.

Hard paints don’t usually perform as well as eroding paints during a static test but the Hempel Hard Racing put in a solid performance in our three locations. It resisted all major fouling growth and regular boat use would have kept the slime at bay.

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