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Phillips Finds Sea Hawk Treasure in BVI in 2010

When BVI resident Bob Phillips bought six gallons of Sea Hawk's Islands 77 Plus paint from the Golden Hind Chandlery in Road Town, he never imagined walking away with a free paint job and haul out worth $2,500.

Mr. Phillips was the winner of Sea Hawk's Treasure Hunt paint promotion, which came to an end when he scratched off the lucky ticket.

Customers were given a scratch-off ticket for every gallon of Islands 77 Plus paint they purchased. The regional promotion rewarded customers with gift certificates, koozies and shirts. Out of 2,500 tickets, Mr. Phillips found the grand prize.

"I am very unlucky most times of my life, but this was one of the good times," Mr. Phillips said.

He has always used Sea Hawk paint on all of his boats starting in 1993 when he arrived in the BVI.

"It is my paint of choice," Mr. Phillips said. "What I am excited about is going to the next step up. Switching to 77 Plus was a logical choice."

Mr. Phillips Custom 60-foot Trawler will now receive a fresh coat of paint courtesy of Sea Hawk.

"Sea Hawk became very well know for its TBT paint, and it is very effective. This [promotion] is a way to draw attention that Sea Hawk has more than just one paint," noted Ramiz Abuhaydar, Golden Hind Chandlery Managing Director. "More countries have started to ban TBT and the company started developing a tin-free product. More and more boats have moved towards a tin-free paint," Mr. Abuhaydar said.

The Islands 77 Plus is tin-free and works in salt, brackish and fresh waters.

Denis Laesker, Seahawk Paints Sales Representative said Islands 77 Plus shows that the company has "alternatives and solutions to different situations."

"This promotion was launched in the Caribbean last year to let customers know that we do have a tin-free solution," Mr. Laesker said. "At the end of the day, customers are looking at a product that performs."

Mr. Abuhaydar is seeing more charter companies switching to Islands 77 Plus. He explained the tin-free paint allows the boat to travel to the United States, Canada and other countries were the tin-based paints are banned.

"Why put yourself in the position where you have to strip the old paint," Mr. Abuhaydar said.

Mr. Phillips boat is registered in Canada, although he doesn't see himself taking his boat there anytime soon, it was still a reason why he made the switch to the tin-free paint.

Sea Hawk is based in Clearwater, Florida, where the paint is made, tested and developed. The company works closely with the University of California in Clearwater, where 700 panels in the water are tested on a daily basis.

"The [students] go every day and pull out the panels and photograph them to see what types of sea creatures are growing," Mr. Laesker said.

They not only test Sea Hawk's paint, but its competitors as well.

"We are seeing what works and what doesn't," Mr. Laesker said.

The company looks at factors like water temperature, the sun and organisms that could affect the paint.

Islands 77 Plus was initially named Islands 66. But after Sea Hawk received a letter from its competitor's lawyer saying the name was already registered, they decided to call the new product Islands 77 Plus, instead of spending years in court.

"Anyway it is 11 better," Mr. Laesker said. "Who knows maybe next year we will be looking at something else. It is a very dynamic industry."

When asked if there will be an Islands 88, he laughed, "Maybe …"

Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.

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