Wax recommendations?

Thread starter #1
Need to know what is the best wax to use on my Capri 14. The local boat shop is pushing a 3M wax, priced at $15 bottle, claiming that car wax is not appropriate for boats. My capri is in like new condition...just need to know whats the best way to protect the hull? thanks for any advise.
Great Question

I'm interested to hear what others say.

I spoke with a co-worker who sailed across the Atlantic, by himself, twice! I think he knows a thing or two about caring for a boat. He recommended I use softscrub with bleach to clean the hull and turtlewax with carnauba (sp?) to wax it. Only have done it twice but my '90 14.2 cleans up nice!

Other suggestions?



New Member
Don't worry about protecting the gelcoat with a coating as you would with paint. Protect the hull's cosmetic appearance by keeping it out of the sun and heat when stored and by covering the bottom when trailering(dings in the bottom are much worse than faded gelcoat on the topsides). :) The 3M stuff is good, but indeed pricey. I reccomend their polishing compounds for oxidized gelcoat. Whatever you do, don't bother waxing your boat's wetted surfaces. You won't see them when it's in the water, and wax induces drag.
I Still Learn Something New Every Day!

QUOTE: "Whatever you do, don't bother waxing your boat's wetted surfaces. You won't see them when it's in the water, and wax induces drag."

I would never suggest that someone might be trying to blow a little smoke up my skirt :D, but I really would like to see some discussion/explanation on wax inducing drag. I have only a modest amount of sailing experience and I enjoy and benefit from discussion of some of the subtle nuances of this sport. Does this have something to do with surface tension? How would it be different say, from waxing skis?
For all I know, this may be Rule #1 of go-fast sailing. Any comments would be appreciated. :confused:


New Member
I'm happy you asked. :D First, lets define laminar flow. When the flow of air or water over a surface is undisturbed and straight, with no vorticies whatsoever, the flow is said to be laminar. Laminar flow is the ideal condition for minumum drag. When the flow detaches and becomes turbulent, the swirls, eddies, and vorticies create drag. On every moving object, there are layers of air(or water) that move at different velocities, having both direction and speed. The flow immediately next to an object, is called the boundry layer. The boundry layer must be kept smooth and flowing to achieve laminar flow, and therefore minum drag. It is usually the slowest moving layer, and varies in thickness, depending on the pressure of the fluid next to it.

How does attempt to keep the flow of water over a sailboat laminar? Principally, design(ie designing shapes that flow through the water well) The secondary way is the condition of the surfaces over which water flows. Smooth and with zero irregularities is ideal. If you ever get to look at boats that compete in Worlds for their class, you will see that their hulls are perfectly clean, with zero scratches, and no irregularities. This is partially achieved by storing the boats on dollies that support the boat at the rails, not the bottom, so not to distort it or provide opprotunity for scratching during loading/unloading. It has been demonstrated in towing tanks that a very slightly ridged surface can keep the boundry layer flow laminar. This texture can be achieved on gelcoat or paint by wet sanding with 600 grit sandpaper. Wax has been shown to cause water to bead up and cause the boundry layer to break up, which is why you never see wax reccomded for apprication on wetted surfaces. Detergents have been shown to induce laminar flow by breaking the surface tension of water. This method has been employed by both defenders and challengers in the America's Cup. In most regattas, temporary coatings on the hull and appendages are illegal.

The rule of thumb is that you should concentrate on getting a *perfect* surface on the forward 1/3 of a shape, be it the hull, or blades(slang for rudders and centerboards). A perfectly surfaced and shaped centerboard can outpoint an unprepared and less ideally shaped board by several degrees, which of course can give a sailor a big lead over competitors in racing. The psychlogical affect of knowing that your boat is prepared as it can possibly be is a great asset as well. All this said, a wet-sanded surface must be maintained, which means sanding every once in a while, not something most people really want to do. The next best thing is to have the surfaces smooth enough to see yourself in. What affect does this have? Well, aside from the pointing ability I mentioned, not much. Every little bit counts, however. I've finished my C-15's foils to a mirror finish, and the hull is almost as fair as I can get it considering it was dragged up on beaches by previous owners. :rolleyes:

Ed Jones

Secretary/Vice Commodore

Yes, I also faithfully wet-sanded my boat bottom and didn't use wax. And yes, I understand perfectly the concept of surface tension. But when I bought my latest Capri 14.2. (my fourth) I was advised by Ron Lane (one of the biggest dealers in small one-design sailboats in Sou. Calif.) that "There's a new kind of wax you should try. It's just as good as wet-sanding. It's Starbright with Teflon."

So I tried it, and the bottom was slick as goose grease. And no, there's no surface tension. How do I know? Because when I rinse it down after sailing (to remove the salt water) the water sluices right off, leaving nary a drop standing on the surface. And yes, Virginia, it's fast. And no, I've never wet-sanded it.

Starbright is available at marine hardware stores. And yes, I agree, never use a car wax. It contains silicone, which will make any possible repairs (such as scratches and dings) difficult.


New Member
Whoops, good call, Ed. I'd forgotten about that stuff. I've heard that coatings with teflon in them seem to work as well. I'm not sure if the ISAF considers it a temporary coating or not. :confused: Sounds like it lasts a while, so perhaps it isn't.
I Starbright the bottom a little past the waterline and use wax for the rest of the hull. The wax keeps the brown Mission bay water from staining the boat.
I first wash my boat with a soft scrub soap, I make sure threr is no bleach in it. Next I apply a coat of Starbright Tefflon Wax. This is what I do befor every nationals. I work and sail with George Szabo and here's I do to his Star boat and we do to our Snipe: 3M Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound (hull and deck), Wet sand down to 1000 or 2000 grit. Apply Starbright. Then add Team McLube Sailkote. At a regatta we will add Sailkote every 2-3 days. I just did this for the snipe and he won the nationals.

Thanks to all of you who posted to this thread. It's great to be able to come this forum and have others share their experiences with those of us who are not as experienced in the "care and feeding" of the C-14.2! I would have never, ever thought that waxing the hull would induce drag :eek: