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Posted by on Apr 7, 2011 in Sailboat, Sailing, UK, US |

Clear Gelcoat: See Beneath the Surface

Tartan 4700 hull No. 1 gets the clear-coat treatment, which allows close inspection of the underlying laminate before painting.

Rusty Stewart of McMichael Yacht Brokers in Mamaroneck, NY, agreed to represent the Tartan line of boats as a dealer on the condition that any boat that was to be painted would be finished in clear gelcoat first, and only then painted with Awlgrip. The reason? With clear gelcoat, as opposed to one with pigment, any voids or imperfections in the hull are visible when it comes out of the mold, and changes can be made.

The first Tartan 4700 hull coming out of the mold, showing a clear gelcoat over the structural laminate. Photo courtesy Rusty Stewart, McMichael Yacht Brokers

The first Tartan 4700 hull coming out of the mold, showing a clear gelcoat over the structural laminate. Photo courtesy Rusty Stewart, McMichael Yacht Brokers

“I saw it being used in navy contracts to build the Navy 44s in the Pearson yard,” says Rusty. “You can really see where the resin has gone, so we decided to have it done on hull number one of the Tartan 4700 we ordered.”

The Tartan 4700 is designer Tim Jackett’s latest creation, and the flagship of the fleet. “The process allows the hull laminate to be inspected from the outside—a view that in the infusion process you otherwise never get to see,” says Jackett. “Any issues with the process can easily be seen and corrective action can be taken. It also has proven to be very helpful in refining the layout of vacuum lines and resin-infusion lines for all boats.”

There’s no extra cost for the process, although more care needs to be taken in the layup because clear gelcoat is much harder to see in the mold than the usual white. Jackett took to the idea immediately as a way to learn what’s happening in the mold, and he plans to use clear gelcoat on all his boats that are destined to be painted.

“This first Tartan 4700 will launch in May, and I’m glad Tim stepped right up on this practice so we can use it in all the boats we order,” adds Rusty Stewart. “With this process, you can literally see beyond the surface.”

—Zuzana Prochazka