The New York Boat Show sometimes is the occasion for fashion innovations that go beyond style for its own sake and involve the comfort and safety of pleasure boaters. This is the case with various new models in boating shoes, whose appeal is not their appearance alone but the protection they offer against the hazards of a slippery deck.
A veteran among the antiskids is the Sperry Top-Sider, pioneered by Connecticut Yachtsman Paul A. Sperry back in the '30s. This shoe made footing safer than it had ever been. It provided the effect of many tiny squeegee blades—cut into the solid rubber sole. The best-known Sperry model has double-heel cushioning, comes in white and navy canvas and costs $10 for men and women.
A disadvantage of most deck shoes has long been that their tiny grooves are likely to pick up sand and cinders. This makes for gritty scratches on polished decks. But Sperry and other firms believe their latest models go a long way toward overcoming this drawback.
Clarks of England, well-known for their desert boot, are introducing their first boating shoe this spring. It is white and has a crepe-rubber corrugated sole and costs $15 for men, $14 for women. It is made of light, washable glove leather.
The Fellman Tri-Vac neoprene rubber sole is a feature of Nautics new soft-leather yachting shoe. Here the grip is secured by suction from tiny vacuum cups. In bone, olive and brown, it is made for men only: $17.
Bates calls its new soft ponyskin lightweight shoe the Boater-Floater. It is leather-lined and has Neo-Crepe sole with wedge construction. The cost is $14 for men and $13 for women; it is made in white only.
The Randy Boatshu has deep herringbone pattern grip-deck sole with wedge construction, built-in arch support and five-eyelet tie. Made of canvas, it comes in white, navy, khaki and blue denim. It costs $7 for both men and women.
For sailors who like the feel of cork under their feet, Kleets of Cambridge makes a shoe in nylon sailcloth with a sole of Deckork composition.
It features four-eyelet tie, arch support, sponge-rubber insole and reinforced toe. For men and women, it is available in navy, white and faded blue; $7.