Cruising the Seas

By Jenn Hess | August 9, 2005

Companies large and small continue to battle for position within the yacht coatings market by tempting boat owners with this year's hottest products.

What better time to enjoy the benefits of being a boat owner than in the summer, when the sun and water look so inviting. Though the waves might seem perfect, boat owners old and new know that without the proper maintenance, they are going to be stranded on the docks rather than out cruising the seas. Whether it be a wood or fiberglass boat, there are always new products promising better results than those from past boating seasons. According to Business Trend Analysts (BTA), Commack, NY, sales of marine paint as a whole will be $250.1 million in 1999, the lowest level since 1990. However, BTA expects the industry to pick up again, projecting by 2007, sales will rise to $317.9 million (see chart, p. 81 of print magazine). According to The Freedonia Group, Cleveland, OH, the yacht and pleasure craft market comprises 10% of the marine coatings industry. With the U.S. recreational boat industry seeing demand increase-the Freedonia Group, sees the shipment of recreational boats rising 7.8% percent each year to 2002-those responsible for coatings for boats could also enjoy an increase in sales. The Freedonia Group projects the demand for recreational boat paint will reach three million gallons by 2007 (see chart, p. 83 of print magazine).

As the demand for marine paints increases, companies are constantly trying to get a leg-up on the competition. Over the past few years, some of the larger marine paint companies have begun acquiring some of the more-specialized coatings companies in an effort to gain marketshare. Akzo Nobel, based in The Netherlands, has built on its position as a global player by expanding outside of Europe and acquiring companies with different areas of expertise. The most noteworthy of its purchases is Courtaulds, the ninth-ranked company in Coatings World's 1998 Top Companies Report, and its International Paint division- which consists of a yacht coatings business, marine coatings business and the protective coatings business. "International Paint has been in the marine paint business since 1882 and was acquired by Akzo Nobel about a year ago," said Steve Schultz, global market development director, International Paint. "Akzo Nobel was already the owner of a very successful yacht business called Sikkens with a strong position in Europe. Its strength has been in finishes and wood treatments," he added. Two other key acquisitions paying off for Akzo Nobel are the New Zealand-based Epiglass, experts in 100% solid epoxy resins, which it purchased nine years ago, and VC 17m, a Swedish specialty antifouling company it acquired in the mid-1980's. "Each of these companies brought expertise in specific areas to our business and has helped us understand the global nature of the business," Mr. Schultz said.

Could Jotun be the next company to expand its yacht coatings business to the United States now that it acquired the $35 million marine coatings business of Valspar? While the deal did not reach into the yacht paint market, it gives Jotun a presence in the U.S. In recent years, Jotun has expanded distribution of its yacht paint line, Penguin Yachting. Five years ago it launched the brand in the Mediterranean market, marking Penguin Yachtings' debut outside the Scandinavian region.

Despite all these moves among the big players in the market, there is still plenty of competition within the yacht and pleasure craft industry. One of the smaller companies in the industry, Kop-Coat Marine Group, part of RPM, reports annual sales of $20 million. According to Cameron Metz, vice president and general manager, Kop-Coat, there has been flat to slight growth of one to two percent over the past six years.

Mr. Schultz of International Paint describes the yacht paint market as strong and stable with modest growth potential. "We estimate the yacht paint market to be $200 million, of which International Paint's share is 37%," he said.

What's New Topping the list of boaters' concerns is fouling, and finding the best way to prevent barnacles, weeds and slime from leeching on to the boat's bottom, wearing down the paint and slowing down the boat.

Antifouling paints seem to dominate the yacht and pleasure craft coatings industry. According to Mr. Schultz, International Paint's strength is antifouling paints, which account for 40% of the company's revenues within the yacht coatings industry. At Jotun antifoulings are a priority. "The antifouling range is continuously being modified," said Per O. Hoem, international marketing manager, Jotun. Manufacturers are introducing a number of different types of antifouling paints, such as ablative and water-based paints, and are continuing to work on developing other environmentally-safe paints.

The benefits of ablative antifouling coatings include the continuous release of fresh biocides and the elimination of paint build-up on the boat's surface. "Ablative paints operate like a bar of soap-the paint film polishes away with use," said Mr. Metz, who has seen the sale of Kop-Coat's ablative paint, Petit ACP-Ultima, gradually increase as users learn of the advantages. "This controlled erosion results in a continually renewed surface with fresh toxicant always available for the prevention of fouling attachment," he said.

One big advantage Mr. Metz stressed, which is of particular relevance to the do-it-yourself (DIY) owner, is that once ACP-Ultima is applied, it can be hauled or retouched without recoating. "Conventional paints tend to lock in the biocides, so after three or four coats of conventional paint, the boat has to be sand blasted. There is not a lot to do after applying an ablative paint," Mr. Metz continued.

Micron CSC is International Paint's most popular product. According to Mr. Schultz, the most sophisticated antifouling paints will have a very effective release mechanism to control the release of biocide and will as a result require less copper. "Micron CSC is very effective in this regard and as a result has a relatively low copper level," Mr. Schultz added.

International Paint is taking ablative paints one step further, working on a biocide-free ablative bottom paint, which will create a slippery surface that makes it difficult for marine growth to adhere to the boat. The company test-marketed Veridian 2000 in North America in 1993. The product proved fast and fuel efficient, but Mr. Schultz said Veridian 2000's application process was too complex for the DIY boat owner. International Paint then went back to the drawing board, and earlier this year released a new version of Veridian in a few markets throughout Europe. The newer version is geared more towards the do-it-yourself owner with an easier application process. Mr. Schultz expects Veridian to be introduced into North America and the Asia-Pacific markets early next year.

"The Veridian surface is so slippery that it is extremely difficult for growth to stick to it. As a result the boats seem to slip through the water," Mr. Schultz said. According to International Paint, tests have proven that boats with Veridian applied to them will be four to 10% faster and more fuel efficient.

Another company is taking a slightly different approach to the ablative paint market. "We are seeing the future to be about water-based paints," said Andy Guglielmo, assistant sales manager, Flex-Del Corp., the manufacturer of Aquagard waterbase antifouling bottom boat paint. "Everything is going towards a cleaner environment. With water-based paints, there are no fumes, easy application, and it cleans up with soap and water," Mr. Guglielmo said. Since Aquagard is an ablative, there is no paint build-up to be concerned with. The paint requires two coats, which can be applied an hour apart, and three days after application, the boat is ready to be launched. "Depending on location, Aquagard can last up two years," said Mr. Guglielmo. Flex-Del sees the popularity of water-based paints rising each year, especially on the east coast of the U.S. "It is cost efficient; Aquagard costs 30% less than other water-based paints on the market," Mr. Guglielmo said. He also pointed out that water-based paints are ideal for inflatable paints, as they will not crack.

International Paint has also seen success with its water-based paint, Optima. "It is without question, the best performing antifouling paint we have ever developed," Mr. Schultz said "It meets all existing legislative guidelines, has low VOC levels and still delivers fantastic performance for the boat owner." Optima was introduced into the European market two years ago, and is expected to be available in North America and Asia Pacific soon.

Mr. Hoem of Jotun said Penguin Yachting's top antifouling product is NonStop, a tin-free, self-polishing antifouling paint. According to the company, NonStop combines simplicity of application for the DIY market with high quality properties that satisfy professional boat painters, and meets high quality requirements. In NonStop, Penguin Yachting has combined a slightly water soluble binder with a hydrophilic binder. It is suitable for all types of boats and all speeds. Another plus, according to the company, is the simple maintenance required to keep the boat in the water-just scrub the hull at the end of the season, and then apply two fresh coats in the spring.

"In 1998, NonStop was rewarded Best-in-Test by several major European boating magazines, amongst them Practical Boat Owner in the UK," Mr. Hoem added.

Even though these new paints claim to offer the best technology available, conventional antifouling paints are still more popular. One reason is the cost. According to Mr. Metz of Kop-Coat, ablatives cost 25% more than conventional paints. Another reason why conventional antifouling paints outsell newer types is awareness. "It's hard to convince the consumer that a water-based paint will stick to their boat," said Mr. Guglielmo of Flex-Del.

Since conventional bottom paints are still popular, Kop-Coat has introduced Petit Trinidad, a hard protective paint with a high percentage of cuprous oxide and a specially formulated algaecide which prohibits photosynthesis, thus preventing algae from adhering to the paint.


Beyond Paint Believe it or not, there is much more to the yacht coatings industry than just paint for the boat. Other key products are finishes, primers, paint removers and varnishes, all of which are essential for maintaining a healthy boat and keeping it in the water.

Sikkens Yachtpaints, also part of Akzo Nobel, has spent the past few years expanding its range of do-it-yourself products, according to Willem Antheunissen, products manager, Sikkens Yachtpaints. Among Sikkens products available are Cetol Marine, a one-pack clear satin impregnating oil/varnish based on an alkyd resin base. "Cetol Marine is used as a primer and finish on wooden parts of yachts. It has been very popular in the U.S., and is now also available in the Europe," Mr. Antheunissen said. Sikken's Power Gloss is a one pack high quality high gloss finish, also based on alkyd resins-which is used as a scratch resistant finish for topsides on all types of yachts. "This product is especially suited for application at lower temperatures from 0�C and is very successful because it increases the workable season," he said. Sikkens also offers Universal Primer, which can be used either as a high build priming and intermediate coat on wood above the waterline or as a rust inhibiting primer and intermediate coat on steel above the waterline.

Also new on the market from Jotun is a line of products for the protection of teak (teak oil and teak cleaner) and a new mahogany stain.

Flexabond is a new 100% pure elastic epoxy from Kop-Coat that bonds fiberglass, steel, aluminum and concrete. "It does not sag, shrink or run during or after application, which is extraordinary," said Mr. Metz. "The product can be used on wood or fiberglass boats, and for both horizontal and vertical repairs because it defies gravity. Sixteen hours after application, the area can be filed, planed, sawed, drilled, nailed or sanded down according to Mr. Metz. Two other products from Kop-Coat are Aqua-Chem, a barnacle and algae stain remover, and a yet-to-be named paint remover that is environmentally friendly and will not harm the boat's gel-coat. Mr. Metz said he expects the latter to be unveiled later this year.

From International Paint is Interfill, an extremely water resistant two-pack polyurethane epoxy primer and filler. "For a polyurethane finish to be successful in the yachting industry, it must be offered with a complete system of quality fillers and epoxy primers to withstand the demands of the marine environment. Our Interfill Epoxy filler is a good example of specifically formulated products for this application," Mr. Schultz said. It is also water resistant and easy to mix and apply, he added.

Napier International Technolo-gies, Inc., Vancouver, Canada, has introduced the SV-35 series of products, which according to the company are user friendly coating removers. Ideal for the yacht and pleasure craft industry, SV-35 products are available in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. These products have been designed to remove protective coatings including linear and cross-linked polyurethanes, solvent and water borne epoxy primers, flexible primers and chromate primer systems, most types of antifouling paint and consumer products such as alkyds, enamels, lacquers and varnishes. According to Napier, SV-35's unique formulation opens the pores of the coating system, allowing the product to penetrate to the substrate, destabilizing the bond and releasing the paint from the underlying surface. These products allow paint removal to be completed more efficiently virtually anywhere, reducing the need for protective equipment, ventilation or breathing apparatus.

Tested against two other leading brands of chemical antifouling paint removers by a Canadian government agency, SV35-M was chosen as the preferred method for removing antifouling paint. According to Napier, SV35-M is engineered specifically for removal of marine-grade paint, efficiently and cost effectively, without damage to the boat or the environment.


In the Works Even with all the new products making waves in the market worldwide, coatings companies are not resting on their laurels. New formulas are being worked on, especially in the field of antifouling paints, which are governed by strict environmental regulations.

Mr. Metz said Kop-Coat's number one focus right now is non-toxic bottom paint. The company is exploring a silicon-based paint, a passive antifouling system, works like Teflon. "As soon as the boat starts to move, the barnacles fall off," Mr. Metz explained. There are some glitches however. "It is difficult to put Teflon on the bottom of a boat, and there is the problem of adhesion to silicon," he said. In addition chemists working with Kop-Coat have found that there is a chemical in young seagrass that prevents barnacles from attaching to the seagrass. "We are trying to extract that chemical and put it into bottom paints," Mr. Metz added.

International Paint is also working on Teflon-based bottom paint, having entered an agreement with DuPont for the use of Teflon technology in antifouling paints. According to International Paint, Teflon adds hard, smooth fast characteristic to bottom paints. "We offer VC 17m and VC Offshore antifoulings with Teflon," Mr. Schultz said. "There are two new products that have just been launch with Teflon. They are Trilux for bright clean colors and aluminum boats and the new Ultra for saver fouling areas. With Teflon these products delivers a very unique coatings desired by many boat owners around the world," he said.

Not only are coatings companies looking to provide the best-quality products on the line, but ones that are environmentally-safe as well. "At issue is the amount of solvent from paint that leaks into the water," said Mr. Metz of Kop-Coat. Companies that supply products to the U.S. must be concerned with VOC levels, especially in California, where they are lower there than throughout the rest of the country. "We have to make special paints for California," Mr. Metz commented. "These paints cost more because the solvent is less expensive, but to meet the requirements there has to be more copper and other solid resins added to them."

"There is a growing need for low VOC products and raw materials to produce these products," said Mr. Schultz. "We at International Paint are focusing our development efforts on products that are safe for the environment and safe for the user to apply in order to remain a global player."

Mr. Antheunissen also sees environmental influences coming to the forefront in the industry. With a ban on tin worldwide already introduced, copper seems to be next. "Holland, following Sweden's policy, has introduced a ban on the use of antifoulings containing copper as of Sept. 1, 1999," he said. "The industry needs to prepare themselves for this situation."


Mother Nature's Effects In addition to rules and regulations instituted to protect Mother Nature, there is also the issue of protecting boats from the effects of Mother Nature herself. One such condition is osmosis. Since more than 90% of yachts and recreational boats have fiberglass hulls, osmosis is of huge concern to boat owners.

Osmosis is more common in the Mediterranean than in Norway, the home of Jotun, which has been working on a solution, because its Penguin Yachting products are becoming quite popular there. Because boats seem to stay in the water all year long in the Mediterranean, the hulls are not given a chance to dry out. According to the company, Jotun's solution is an anti-osmosis treatment that involves removing all the gel coat below the waterline using a special type of plane. Once the polyester hull is completely bare, it has to be desalted and dried out. The hull is then rinsed with fresh water for several times a week for two to three months. Once the moisture content is less than five percent, several layers of various epoxy products are applied to ensure a watertight surface which is then ready for priming and coating.


Looking Ahead As long as boat owners continue to take out their boats, the yacht coatings market will profit. As each company is busy developing and researching new formulations, the global market is bound to see a lot of action in the coming years.

One reason is the determination to stay on top and to continue to be competitive with other companies. "The marketplace is changing very rapidly," Mr. Schultz said. "We have to make sure International Paint stays on top of the technology to remain a global player."

Coatings companies are also constantly looking to expand on their roles as global players, either through acquisitions or the introduction of products to new markets. "While cultures are different, we have found that the performance requirements for yacht paint is the same," said Mr. Schultz. "Boat owners want high quality paint products to solve their painting requirements so that they can get on with the real reason they own a boat."

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