Considering that we planned on having our boat rented out when we did not use it I thought the Swedish invention Keel Pro (Svenska Koster) would be a good investment. It is a rubber protection that is glued and shaped on to the existing keel. The protection has chambers that gets filled with water once the boat is launched. In the case of the keel hitting something the chambers will be compressed and the water forced out through small holes and subsequently damping the collision force.
So far the theory. Now onto practice. The Enter 360 keel has a very sharp edge and it worried me how that would be affected since the Keel Pro was moulded after some less performance oriented keel and had a very blunt edge. The inventor, Torbjörn Eriksson, explained that I would not even notice it being there. On the countrary he explained the protection would inprove the performance going upwind because the keel would get an improved wing profile. If I against all odds would be unsatisfied I would get 100% money back for the rubber protection (understandably not for the glue and polyester I also bought and used to shape the keel).
That spring I worked hard rebuildning the keel shape so that it would fit the protection. There were 2-3 cm missing on each side that I had to add in several iterations. I was a bit suspiscious about adding that much to the keel but I still believed the inventor and besides I had a completely new set of sails to enjoy that summer so how much could that piece of rubber slow us down…?
Boy, was I surprised! Immidiately we got beaten by smallare boats in the club that we had no problem keeping behind us last summer, even with the old Greek sails. Directly after launch I could feel the drag especially in light wind. As the summer went by the protection also attracted barnacles like nothing else. The inventor had promised that the rubber would not need anti fouling but after that summer it was obvious that it did.
I contacted the inventor that explained in BIG LETTERS that his keel protection could not possible have affected the boat speed. His special profile fitted all keels (except extreme racers) and any problems were my fault all together. I was stupid not wanting to try it on for yet another summer. After this he changed his mind several times about his money back guarantee and even said that he did not expect me to be able to return it in one piece which was the terms of his guarantee. In other words he himself expected his generous money back offer to be worthless.
After a lot of work – again – a got the protection off. In one piece! And got some money back at least. I could have been a happy customer that believed in and recommended his product although it did not fit my boat. Instead the cheap and arrogant attitude turned an unsatisfied customer to an even more unsatisfied one.
Never buy a Keel Pro unless you can recesse it completely into your existing(!) keel profile. And get Torbjörns promises in writing. Thats what I learned from this.
Fair winds, Lasse