Sanitising Boats and Equipment

16.03.21 10:43 AM Comment(s) By kSailKeith

The RYA Sailing & Racing in Mixed Households guidance identifies the potential COVID transmission risk of using shared equipment. Following the publication of the guidance, kSail worked with multiple partners to help develop and supply a practical solution to sanitise sailing equipment between users. During Autumn 2020 kSail supported the RYA to deliver its keelboat racing events as well as centres and schools to deliver their training programmes.
As we look toward to the end of the latest lockdown, we hope that providing more information about what was done may help and benefit others who are managing their own return to activity.

Key Requirements

Initially concentrating on our core activity of team racing, we wanted to understand the implications of the RYA guidance at a team racing event where crews may change between boats after every race. Quarantining equipment for the prescribed 48 hours between users is clearly impractical.

If events with shared equipment were therefore going to be possible, we identified the following as the challenges that needed to be addressed.
  • Prevention of Transmission of COVID-19
    Whilst nothing can guarantee to be 100% COVID-safe, we needed something which had been tested and proven to be effective against coronaviruses.
  • Ease and Speed of Application
    We wanted to be able to quickly make a boat usable for a new crew without needing an army of volunteers or specialist equipment.
  • Toxicity
    There could be no concerns over safety for those using the cleaned equipment or those who may be doing the cleaning between users.
  • Environmental Impact
    Many cleaning solutions do not degrade and will build up over time; potentially causing even greater problems in the future. Given the nature of the sport, it is inevitable that whatever product is used will end up in the water. It therefore must be as safe as possible for use in a marine environment. 
  • Impact on Equipment
    The equipment, boats and clothing we use in sailing is complex and involves lots of different materials. Frequent cleaning should not have any impact on any equipment.
  • Zero Residue
    It was important that there should be no surface residue that could become slippery or have an impact on the safe operation of equipment.
  • Cost
    Finally, any solution should not be so expensive that its use may be limited by concerns over cost.

The Solution

There are a significant number of products available on the market which meet many of the above criteria, however we were introduced to BioBax, the makers of Zwype.

Zwype was a new product in development, primarily destined for the care home sector. Its' development needed to meet exceptionally high standards and, rather surprisingly, a set of requirements similar to our own. In the care home, Zwype must be quick and effective to use, safe around people of all levels of vulnerability and not impact the surfaces and materials it may encounter, from kitchens and bathrooms to the personal belongings of residents.

What was exciting is that while Zwype, as the name suggests, is primarily a wipe-on product, it can be also be effectively used as a spray. With just a 30 second contact time it made the possibility of sanitising a whole boat a very real possibility.

The final part of the puzzle was the determination of the development team to produce a product that had minimal impact on the wider environment. All of these types of products require their active ingredients to kill bacteria and viruses; Zwype's primary ingredients remain active for no longer than is necessary and therefore don’t create larger problems when they invariably end up in the environment. No cleaner and sanitiser can claim to be environmentally friendly - however few seem able to come closer to this than Zwype.

The Practicalities

Put simply, what initially was going to be a huge challenge, instead presented few problems and was surprisingly straight forward. Possibly the greatest challenge in late Summer 2020 was that Zwype was yet to complete it’s testing process; we therefore had to use a slightly less perfect alternative for the first few events.

Garden type pressure sprayers, of 5L or 1.5L, make application quick and simple and require little instruction or training. The most appropriate sprayers cost a little more, but have been designed for robustness with brass nozzles, are clearly labelled and have a fixed nozzle so that the correct spray pattern is used. If you decide to source your own sprayers, ensure that they are clearly labelled and thoroughly cleaned before use.

At the start and end of each day, volunteers completed a comprehensive spray down of the crew area, as well as sails and other equipment. For boat changes during a session, we quickly realised that the sailors themselves were the best people to help with the process. Where crew changes happen afloat, it seemed easier for the sailors changing into boats to be responsible for cleaning. For crew changes where boats come ashore, cleaning before and after each use is quick and simple.

While all users and scenarios are different, the pressure sprays are very efficient at dispensing the sanitiser; just twenty litres of sanitiser were used at the British Keelboat League Finals cleaning the working area of six RS21s, six umpire and changeover ribs and two committee boats. The three days of competition encompassed nearly sixty crew changes.

There are several additional benefits of Zwype’s development for the care home sector. As a cleaner and sanitiser it can be used in all areas around the club or centre. It is a food safe product for use in kitchens and is ideal for use in changing areas and toilets.

Looking Ahead

Clearly we all hope there is a future without COVID requirements in place. In the meantime numerous clubs, centres, schools and groups are already using (or planning to use) Zwype to ensure their activities and venues are as COVID safe for everyone as possible.

kSail is a distributor for BioBax. Zwype is therefore available through kSail and can be supplied in a range of sizes from 750ml to 1000L.
For more information please visit or email
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Team Racing Footnote

Wider restrictions have meant we have not yet been able to run a Team Racing event; we have worked hard with Clubs, including Spinnaker Sailing Club to make robust sanitisation plans for the UKTRA Championships that should have happened in March. There are Team Racing events planned in the reasonably near term; Zwype will be helping them happen! #LetsGoSailing #TeamRacingIsAwesome

British Keelboat Sailing - Match Racing 2020
September 2020 Match Racing in Weymouth with boats sanitised between crews. Photo: British Keelboat Sailing
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