After our rowing coach talked to our MIT naval architects, he had us wet sanding the shells with fine sandpaper.
Don't need parallel grooves, just need to eliminate shine that beads water.
But it's a very small effect, and I don't think even rowing shells reach speeds where it makes much difference.
So, I wouldn't be so dismissive on the issue. Let's just say that if something DID make a big difference, it would be more well-accepted by now.
My belief is that eliminating roughness caused by wear will make a modest difference, and that mirror finish and Rain-X go slightly in the wrong direction.
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