Soda blasting is the preferred method these days, easier on the gel coat. I think waiting till the fall will do little or no harm to your boat, especially if you see little or no signs of blistering.
Yes, you must remove all the old bottom paints before applying a barrier coat. After having mine blasted I sanded it done smooth and removed any remaining bits of old paint.
Tartan 37 - S/V Windgeist
Sailing the Chesapeake Bay
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Photo by Joe McCary