Seven of the eight brightly liveried boats racing this year have chosen Akzo Nobel paints

As far as marine product testing goes, it would be difficult to imagine a more inhospitable environment than that into which the fleet of the Volvo Ocean Race will sail on 23 September this year.

Non-stop ultra violet light, crusts of abrasive salt, extremes of temperature and speed; these are conditions that couldn’t easily be created in a laboratory. Throw in some flotsam and the odd barnacle-backed cetacean and you have a fairly stern test for any marine coating.

Considering the relative expense of building a VO60, skimping on fundamentals like paint is a false economy, boatbuilders must recommend products that will last the course. That said, it is notable that seven of the eight boats taking part have chosen International Paints.

Matching paint colours to livery designs has not been an easy job this year as several syndicates have opted for some stomach-churning colours. Team SEB’s fingerpaint green clashes terrible with djuice dragon’s black and zingy pink, making illbruck’s gradient-faded green and white look positively tasteful.

Their vast majority of the fleet has plumped for International’s Interspray 900, supported by Interfill 835, Interprotect and Re-action Lacquer. Below the bootline, VC Offshore is the hard, ultrasmooth, slow release antifouling of choice for this environmentally-concerned race

Scientists from Akzo Nobel, International’s holding group, will be taking a long hard look at the condition of the various paints at every stopover, analysing its performance in this living laboratory and advancing marine coating technology. This year, sunglasses are essential.