The overwhelming impression from all parties is one of cautious optimism. Vinyl wrapping is a process that has been around the automotive industry and indeed the marine industry - if on a much smaller scale - for sometime now. However, the Aviva project remains in many ways an experiment, and thanks to the open mindedness of an owner prepared to break with conservatism, it is an experiment that SuperyachtNews.com will follow with baited anticipation.
The aesthetic and protective longevity of such a large-scale project is of particular interest and with no point of reference available it will be a case of watching and waiting. The myriad of detrimental effects on finishes found at sea, from UV to hull warping, have been tested in theory but will undergo full testing on Aviva. Initial projections suggest that the lifespan of a full Färben Foil wrap should fall between three to five years. Precise durability figures remain to be seen, but the speed of application has already been proven.
The owner’s desire to see Aviva in the water and not in the shipyard was a major influence for the choice to hull wrap. By opting out of paintwork, time at the shipyard was dramatically reduced. However, some paint related processes remained necessary. Quality filling and fairing are of paramount importance for an aesthetically adequate vinyl wrap and Aviva was no different. The consistent foil thickness would reveal any hidden imperfections, as vinyl does not have the filling properties of paint.
No conversation on vinyl wrapping would be complete without some mention of join lines and bubbles. Both are assumed prerequisites that plague vinyl wrapping, seemingly irrespective of technological advances and expertise. When asked if the increased size of the hull posed a legitimate problem for join lines and bubbling the response was one of slight indignation. “The biggest problem is perception! The use of specialist foils with sophisticated adhesive systems is vital to avoid bubbling, good adhesives are now time and heat cured, giving the fitters the window they need to chase any air out from under the foil”, commented Clare and Greg Hoar.
It seems that vinyl wrapping has been tarred with a brush in the guise of a bubble wand. Undeniably, bubbles remain a warranted concern, but such concern has lead to the development of sophisticated counter measures.
Join lines are an unavoidable byproduct of wrapping, if you are looking for them you will find them. In the case of Aviva the foil colouring - battle ship grey - was chosen to match the underlying paintwork allowing Wild Group to use seams rather than overlay joins making the lines subtler. Wild Group explained that a skillful fitter will place the joins in areas of the yacht where light changes, making them more difficult to spot.
Beyond hulls, wrapping can be utilised to reimagine interiors and decking, and in these instances the options are even more varied. Vinyl provides an opportunity for yacht owners to adapt the style of their yachts in a timely and cost effective manner. As the technology improves the viability of vinyl wrapping strengthens, durability increases and the breadth of choice will continue to widen. It may not serve as a perfect replacement for paint, but why should it want to? Vinyl is an alternative not an equivalent, and it allows owners to customise and re-customise their yachts efficiently and move out from under the shade of conservatism. The seas the limit.