It’s a problem that every superyacht owner or crew face – how to preserve the gloss of a paint job and keep your yacht looking like it has just rolled out of the yard while battling the combined assault of dirt, exhaust fumes and salt water. Cleaning and maintenance is all very well, but continual cleaning can quickly degrade the paint. With a typical paint job lasting on average three to five years – perhaps a little longer if you are lucky – it’s a huge expense both in time and money to maintain that showroom feel by respraying when the shine fades.
With high-end or exotic cars, it is not unusual to apply a specialist clear hardcoat atop the paintwork which forms a protective barrier against roadrash and other pollutants, but it is still rare to see this technology applied to superyachts. Zytexx is one of the only companies in our industry offering this sort of product, but now a new company is looking to break into the market with its own ceramic clear coat which, it says, can extend the life of your paintwork for a fraction of the cost of a respray, and with a 40 per cent cost saving over its current competitors' pricing.
The company is Revolutionary Protective Solutions (RPS), and their product line – suitably called Aqueous GuardTM – includes coatings for everything from stone, wood and glass to the hull and superstructure paint or gelcoat itself. While relatively new to the market, the company has some serious form – it supplies the clear coat for the Sahara Force India Formula One team's cars, amongst many other clients in the industry, transport and aviation sectors.
The two key products of interest to superyachts are its Aqueous GuardTM Clear Coat and Hydro Coat+. “We introduced the Coat range in February 2016,” says technical sales director Mark Childs. “We’ve had the coatings for over two and a half years, but we researched, developed and carried out a lot of testing to make sure that what we brought to the market was the right product.” Childs is in a good position to judge – he began his career as a professional paint sprayer, and worked for chemical company BASF producing paints before moving across to the marine sector. Before joining together with his current partners in RPS, he worked on a consultant basis for a number of coatings companies, including Zytexx, and therefore carries a wealth of knowledge covering all aspects of coatings, including those that protect yacht paint.
The key product is the Clear Coat, which forms a chemical bond with the underlying paintwork to create a high-gloss, easy clean protective surface around 10 to 12 microns thick. “It’s about a quarter the thickness of a coat of paint, but it creates a very hard, durable surface,” Childs explains. “We give a two-year warranty but generally it will last three to four years without deteriorating. It imparts a lot of gloss even to new finishes. Even one-year-old paint starts to lose gloss and by applying Aqueous GuardTM Clear Coat it will impart gloss back.”
The process is simple – either through RPS themselves or through selected partners globally (professional polishers and applicators certified to use the Aqueous Guard products), the existing paint is put through a quality controlled four- to six-stage polishing process, prepped and then the Clear Coat is applied using the “roll and tip” method where the coating is rolled on and brushed out. The actual application can be done quickly with the right access to the hull or area to be coated, and the coat is touch dry and dust resistant in around 20 to 30 minutes. It’s 95 per cent cured in eight hours and ready for full use after 24 hours, with full curing taking 48 hours.
While not all paint – essentially, if it can’t be revived by polishing first – is suitable, there are a lot of yachts that could benefit from using a Clear Coat both to preserve the look of their paint and to minimise downtime that might otherwise be required for a full paint job. Yachts that have already used Aqueous Guard include a well-known 62m chartering superyacht, but Childs cites the case of a 50m motor yacht’s hull and topsides that the team prepped and coated in Florida in November 2016, which was completed from first prep to finished coat in 14 days. “The permanent captain is very happy – in fact, he did use the word fantastic,” says the relief captain. “The mate also indicated that if he just looks at any contamination it falls off.”
Childs estimates that applying Aqueous GuardTM Clear Coat to used surfaces should cost around GBP 90-95 per square metre, compared to a typical respray cost of €350-450 per square metre. Moreover, the coating can be easily removed – for repairs to the hull or underlying paintwork, for re-application, or for removal for a respray – using the Aqueous GuardTM gel that can be applied and wiped off by the crew. “If you use our Clear Coat you will prolong the life of your paint,” Childs concludes. “You will keep and maintain the gloss in a surface that is easy to look after – and your turnaround (for application) is remarkably quick enabling the yacht to be out at sea with a minimum of downtime.”