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Gelcoat vs. painted bottom
Need some advice on bottom prep and it''s impact on racing speed.
I have recently purchased a Melges 24 which my racing partner and I will be racing PHRF in New England from May to September and will hopefully be doing some one-design racing in the Southeast from October to April. The boat has been drysailed and the bottom prep is just the gelcoat finish.
Due to the logistics of our homeport in Portsmouth NH, we are contemplating leaving the boat in the water over the summer. We race three times a week, and setting up and tacking down the boat that often is not an option. If we leave it in the water we will need to paint the bottom. My questions are as follows:
1) What bottom paint should we use, recognizing the fact that there will be periods of time the boat will be our of the water? We are willing to trade off more cleaning of the bottom for greater speed.
2) Will this make us uncompetitive versus other Melges 24s with just gelcoat bottoms when we race one-design?
3) Just how much slower will this boat with a painted bottom that is wet sailed be versus just the gelcoat bottom dry sailed? If we are talking about a 2% speed penalty than that is not an issue given all of the other skills we need to work on. If it is a 10% penalty, that is a different matter.
I have read a lot of conjecture on this subject, but so far don''t have enough info to make an informed decision. I will be speaking with Interlux and see if they can give me any guidelines, but I thought I would throw this topic out here and see if anyone has relevant experience.