ROTTERDAM – Does anything on a superyacht raise hackles higher than a shoddy hull paint job? Maybe not. So, call Nico Röper next time you buy a superyacht. The director of Atlas Paint Consultants manages client expectations.
In other words, he educates them about the variables of painting: different locations, painters, systems, boat shapes and surfaces. To skate around that, he’ll write a “big paint section” in your contract.
Painting the hull of a large yacht – Atlas Paint Consultants works on 35 to 100m+ yachts – is tricky. “When you buy a car, you need not visit the factory to make sure the paint goes on right,” Röper says. “It’s applied in a controlled environment of a constant temperature and humidity. Robots spray on paint flawlessly. At a set speed. Day in, day out!”
In the case of superyachts, he adds, “paint makers make perfect paint. It’s poured into a can, stacked on a pallet, shrink-wrapped and trucked to a yard in withering hot or freezing cold weather. Bumpy roads can cause the paint’s heavy parts to sink to the bottom and the binding agent to rise to the top. At the yard, subcontractors are in a hurry and there’s no paint maker in sight to see to it his paint is applied properly.”
That’s the job of Röper and his 6-strong team.
He is on the road much, checking up on paint jobs worldwide. Painting a superyacht hull can costs several million euros. All that fairing and sanding and painting can run to €1,600 per square meter (11 sq. ft.) scaffolding, a spray tent, heating and ventilation can push that price tag higher.
“The expected level of quality is very high. Prevention is better than curing,” says Röper. He has been an expert for owners, a mediator for deadlocked parties and has testified in court. He says, “Yes, much can go wrong, but, of course, a lot goes right, too.”
He adds a contract should contain a hefty paint section. He consults manufacturers about the right paint system for a yacht and spells out prerequisites. Like the required hall temperature, the thickness of coats, time schedules etc. He also sees to it that all parties live up to what is asked of them.
“I’ve worked with paint all my life,” says Röper. “I started at a paint manufacturer. I have done extra training and contracting. There’s nothing wrong with paint in a can. In 99.9% of cases, it’s not the paint that causes failure. It’s almost always the painter.”