Why every sailor should wear boat shoes

7 May 2015 • Written by Zoe Dickens

High heels, trainers and brogues may be perfectly acceptable for harbourside superyacht parties but, as an experienced skipper or captain will tell you, there’s no predicting what the sea may do further afield. It is imperative then that every owner, guest and crew member is properly attired – starting with a sturdy pair of boat shoes. Here’s why:

For safety and style, make sure everyone on your superyacht is wearing boat shoes

1. The Herringbone sole offers a safe grip

After nearly losing his life to a slippery deck in 1935 Paul Sperry, founder of the original Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe, patented the Herringbone grooved sole still used on modern designs. Based on the curved grips of a dog’s paw, there is no better shoe for avoiding tragedy due to wet weather.

This message was underlined today when an inquest revealed that veteran sailor Julian Martin fell overboard during a race because he was wearing the wrong shoes. The 71-year-old suffered a heart attack and died before being pulled out of the sea. Martin was wearing his favourite trainers at the time. "Deck shoes are important when conditions are wet," Dr Anthony Grey told the inquest.

2. They’re endorsed by the navy

Naval battleships aren’t known to shy away from adverse weather conditions and if your ship is under attack during a massive offshore storm the last thing you want be worrying about is your shoes. Navies the world over buy high quality boat shoes in bulk for their crews because there is nothing safer for life on board.

3. They won’t mark your deck

When you’ve splashed out on an expensive light wood deck to finish off your dream custom superyacht, naturally, the last thing you want is unsightly marks left by the shoes of crew or guests. Luckily all boat shoes are made with white rubber soles for this reason precisely – problem solved.

4. They’re water and stainproof

If you’re looking for shoes to finish off crew uniforms that will stand the test of time, deck shoes are really the only choice. Not only do they look the part but, as most of them are hand-sewn and created from specially treated leather, they're comfortable, repel water and are stainproof so won’t need replacing multiple times a year.

5. They’re stylish

Endorsed by everyone from Lisa Birnbach in the original 1980 Official Preppy Handbook to the sailing fans of the Kennedy family, there’s no denying the timeless appeal of a classic boat shoe. With versions now on offer for both men and women from designers including Jimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren and Bottega Veneta, there’s no reason to compromise on style or safety.

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