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Waxing the Pad

There have been numerous discussions on some of the message boards about whether 
or not to wax the pad on a bassboat.  Well, hopefully the following will answer the question once and for all.  In my opinion, from everything that I've read on the subject, I would not wax the pad on my bassboat.

I hope the following helps a bit; I do know that full blueprinting of a hull involves sanding of the surface to ensure that it is perfectly flat and without "hooks" or "rollers". When this is completed, the surface is not polished and waxed, but left "rough" and sanded.                                    Al Shields

Scott from Oregon:
A smooth bottom will not create air bubbles on the bottom.  A semi-rough surface will, which creates less friction and in turn creates more speed. When a boat has its bottom blueprinted, a product called SpeedCoat is often used on the bottom.  The surface is rather bumpy, creating less drag by creating air under the boat.  Have you ever noticed your boat having a better top speed while running on a slight chop instead of smooth water? The extra air under the boat means that your bottom isn't completely wetted creating less drag.
Skip from California:
If you rub your finger on something smooth, like glass, your finger will stick to it.  This is called "surface tension". If you rub your finger on something smooth that has been sanded, it will slide along on it.  Sand the last 6 feet with 400 sandpaper; this will break up the surface tension.  Sand with strokes going from front to read, not side to side.  This was good for 1 or 2 mph on Mod VP boats even back in the '70's.  It is an old trick that works as good or better today.  The faster the boat the better it works.
Marty Hoskins from Georgia:
I would not wax the pad.  Let me qualify this in that I have no data to back this up, but I am an engineer with some fluid dynamics background.  Here is why I say not to wax the pad.  When fluid flows over the surface at relatively low speeds, (speeds that a typical bassboat would run are relatively low compared to many other applications such as air over a jetliner wing), it flows in what is called a laminar flow pattern.  Essentially it flows smoothly and evenly over the surface.  This smooth flow has a particular drag coefficient.  When the flow reaches a high enough speed the flow pattern changes to what is known as turbulent flow.

Under turbulent flow conditions the drag coefficient is significantly reduced as compared to the drag coefficient under laminar flow conditions.  Here is where waxing comes in: Turbulence at the surface/fluid interface can be induced at lower velocities by roughness of the surface.  In other words, a smooth surface would facilitate a smoother flow pattern and thus higher drag than a rough surface.  One of the best practical examples of this effect is golf balls.  The first solid golf balls were smooth with no dimples.  It did not take the pros of that day long to figure out that a ball that had been hit several time, scuffing up the surface, would fly farther than a new ball right out of the box.  Pros began to use their practice rounds to hit all of the balls that they would use in the actual tournament rounds to scuff them up before the tournament began.  Once the manufacturers understood what the pros were doing they began to produce balls with the pre-made "scuffs" and thus the birth of the modern dimpled golf ball.

My conclusion is that I would not wax the pad on a bassboat.  I do not know if a typical bassboat's speeds are fast enough to take advantage of this effect of the surface roughness, but if so you will gain.  If not, you will lose nothing.

Garylee from Minnesota:
I have been blueprinting and repairing hulls for 20 years.  The answer to the question is no wax and 320-400 grit scratches for maximum performance.  In boats that run up to 65-70 mph it makes very little difference.  In boats that run 100+ waxing can cause serious problems.  What happens is the heat created by the speed can cause the wax to melt and ball up and seriously upset the top speed handling of the boat.  The most important thing to remember is to keep the pad of the boat clean and without nicks and chips.  If you do not want to sand that shiny bottom that's OK.  Once in a while get some automotive polishing compound and buff the bottom.  This is not wax but will clean impurities out of the gelcoat.