Carbon fiber spars can be finished in a variety of ways. We use a linear polyurethane paint because this paint delivers excellent durability, better UV-protection and superb “cosmetic” appearance. There are three basic solutions: clear coating, solid color coating, and faux bois.
Clear coating allows you to see the distinctive color and form of the carbon fiber structure. For most spars, that will be black with silver or golden highlights, depending upon the lighting on the warp and weft of the twill.
This appeals to those who enjoy seeing and celebrating the beauty of carbon twill and the higher technology in their spars. Clear coat polyurethane is slightly less durable than a pigmented coating, so it should be refinished every few years, depending on the amount of solar and weather exposure.
The linear polyurethane paints we use are closely related to finishes used on automobiles and airplanes; they are available in a surprisingly wide range of colors. It is, therefore, possible to match spars to topside colors, to duplicate a favorite color or, of course, to have traditional white in a range of tones. The choice is yours.
Experience over many years has shown that our polyurethane paint outlasts the paint on aluminum spars and maintains its gloss far better. Lowering the frequency of refinishing is one of several factors that narrow the cost-differential between our lighter, stronger carbon fiber and metal.
GMT’s experience with blending the high-tech world of pre-preg uni-directional carbon with classic boats goes back almost two decades. The first example was a carbon spar for the Concordia yawl “Crocodile.” But the first GMT spars which looked like wood were for the 82-foot yawl “Zanna,” designed by Landing School design director Steve Dalzell.
Built in 1995, very traditional in appearance with long overhangs and a graceful sheer, “Zanna” was fitted with Faux Bois painted GMT carbon masts, which sailed for 7 years and over 70,000 miles before they were removed for inspection and maintenance.
By that time a section of Faux Bois finish had been badly scarred by an errant full-length batten end during a blow. The ideal “touch up” situation presented itself. An area was masked off and a new section of faux “wood” finish applied, duplicating the look of a wooden scarf splice. The end result was a paint repair that not only restored the beauty of the finish but also enhanced the authenticity of the spars at the same time.
A famous subsequent example of GMT carbon spars with Faux Bois finish is the classic schooner “Lion’s Whelp.” This 65-foot Alden design, recently built by Portland Yacht Services, harkens back to the John Alden yachts of the early 20th century. Even to the trained eye, her spars (both masts, three booms, spreaders and spinnaker pole) appear to be made of wood.
Custom tooling was required for the masts and main boom to achieve the complex shapes and tapers that are reminiscent of what would have been made of wood in the 1920’s. In addition, custom bronze castings were used for gooseneck fittings, boom ends and tracks. The effect is startlingly authentic.
Faux Bois finish is as durable as our plain colors, and we offer a range of wood colors and effects. Meanwhile, underneath are all the advantages of GMT’s carbon fiber structure.