I'm in with the zen of varnishing crowd. My boat is about as far from a "yacht" as can be in other ways but caprails, rub rails, eyebrows, hatches and doorways all but one teak and all looking like candy under 6 coats of Epiphanes.
I did paint
my new boomkin however and the bowsprit
is also painted... those would be too masochistic a job.
Could see how it might get tiring after awhile and as far as a look...paint or varnish
well executed just as pretty and seaman-like to me but then I spent 4 years floating around on military boats.