Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: CT/ Long Island Sound
Thanked 45 Times in 44 Posts
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How long does race bottom prep last?
How long you have Improved Performance due to wetsanding your rolled & tipped hard - modified expoxy will depend upon a number of factors. Most important is the number of crew (ten or more is best) you have working on the sanding. Having pictures of DIFFERENT crew, each performing a stage of work with subsequently finer paper over what is obviously several days will enable you to sit at the bar and send a definite message to your competition, This should work for about a month for each set of four photos. Beyond this, however, is having your crew be able to truthfully say that they spent xx hours over yy days smoothing the bottom of your boat. If you can get them to tell other sailors (especially your competition) this, it should work for about a week per each individual crew member. (Hence the need for large numbers: 10 crew = 10 weeks of improved performance.) Regular bottom cleaning after 400 or 600 grit should be done with a chamois in order to maintain the fiction that it makes that much difference.
There are so many variables in PHRF racing that the benefits of going beyond a simply smooth paint job are likely unmeasurable. Moving a jib lead four inches one way or another will probably have a bigger impact -- how often do you adjust your jibleads on an upwind leg? Having the competition THINK you''ve gone beyond what they''ve done is what counts. Just imagine if you made your crew come to a "secret sanding session" in the dark of the night, and then a couple of "clandestine" photos were "leaked" to friends of friends of certain friends... , showing the people actually there. It might be worth six seconds a mile for two months, keeping the other guys psyched out and guessing, and all you''d need would be a couple of sixpacks. You wouldn''t even need to get sandpaper, or do any sanding, so long as they think you''ve done it! You could also ask the diver for a weekly contract to show at the club bar or other appropriate setting. (The monthly contract is the one you agree to and send back to the diver -- no one else would assume to question him about how often he does your boat, would they?)
Having a smooth, clean bottom IS important, but after a while, you get to a point of diminishing ROI, as far as the time & effort are concerned. Maybe a smoother bottom would shave five seconds off the length of a race. Perhaps the sanding time time would be better spent in improving tacks and jybes, where it would be easy to save 20 or 40 seconds in a race. You decide.