When it comes to daily regatta bottom care, there’s no getting around it: If you wanna win, you gotta swim. This is especially true at multi-day championships that require the boat remain in the water for the duration. According to the professionals, it only takes one night in the water for that finely polished bottom to lose its speedy luster. I don’t mind a dip, so I’m usually happy to give the bottom a little love every morning. That said, I once paid the price with a nasty rash, and ever since then, I’ve thought to myself, “There’s got to be a better way.”
The solution appeared before me at the J/24 Regatta Copa Mexico last winter when my teammate, Rich Bowen, handed me one end of the Cheap Diver bottom flosser he borrowed from a buddy a few boats down. “Here,” he said. “Time to do the bottom.”
The two of us happily flossed our way from bow to stern, and after 10 minutes the bottom was far cleaner than it ever would have been with a mask and a Scotch-Brite pad.
The Cheap Diver, developed by Seattle J/24 sailors, Joy Okazaki and Mike Johnson, is made from a polyester mesh that’s gentle on the hull but effective at wiping away slime. To use, drape it over the bow (preferably with two people, but it can be done singlehandedly) and saw the mesh across the hull. Move aft, hit the leading edge of the keel, and then continue until you reach the transom. Then, work back toward the bow, getting the trailing edge of the keel on the return pass. When you’re done, hang it from a halyard to dry, stuff it in its bag, and leave ashore. There are two lengths available: one for boats up to 24 feet ($45) and one for boats up to 36 feet ($60). Hakari Products, http://www.cheap-diver.com
Chances are you’ll miss a few spots with your Cheap Diver, especially in the keel-to-hull joint area, but an application of Team McLube’s new Antifoul Alternative Speed Polish will take care of those hard-to-reach spots. The Speed Polish is a citrus-based hull lubricant that’s engineered to provide a long-lasting, high-gloss polish to underwater surfaces—for several weeks, according to the scientist at McGee Industries, which also makes HullKote and other McLube products. The updated Speed Polish was used by PUMA Ocean Racing throughout its globe-girdling 2011-’12 race, and by US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider’s SKUD-18 sailors, who were required to keep their boats in the water for the duration of the Paralympic Games.
Team McLube provided us with a preliminary sample in October, and we can confirm it goes on as easily as any other hull polish. We’re told it’s non-toxic, non-metallic, and biodegradable, which should come as a relief to sailors without a Cheap Diver in their dock box. http://www.mclubemarine.com