Step Lively

These are not just shoes. Beneath their stylish exteriors lurk advances in technology and comfort.

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Four Play

The Slam Code One ($90) has a specially designed heel for the kind of grip boaters need-it is essentially split into four sections, each one free to move separately from the others. This contouring ability allows for one part of the heel to always lie flat on deck, meeting the angle of attack and optimizing traction. SLAM Sailing Gear, (888) 734-2821;

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Bare Boat

The Boat Tech ($85) from Columbia Sportswear features drainage ports for quick drying, and Techlite cushioning that is contoured for comfort and treated to be antimicrobial. (So shoes wrapped around sweaty, bare feet won't smell that way!) The Boat Tech uses Columbia's OmniGrip soles for traction control and comes in two colors. Columbia Sportswear, (800) 622-6953;

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Hold Fast

The Sperry Ventus ($120) is a high-performance shoe that is ready for action. A hydro-grip rubber outsole provides traction, and a lightweight midsole contours to focus your center of effort where you need it most: the balls of your feet, your heels, or any other part of the foot yachtsmen use to hold awkward positions in the heat of battle. I wore the Ventus during a 16-day transatlantic crossing and always had traction on deck-wind, rain or shine. And, thanks to an antimicrobial liner that reduces odor, the shoes were allowed belowdecks at the end of the day. Sperry Top-Sider, (800) 247-6575;

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Helm Station

The Dubarry Helmsman deck shoes ($199) are like a warm, welcoming pub on a rainy irish day- but for your feet. And since their DryFast-DrySoft leather is lined with Gore-Tex, you'll feel just as cozy. The helmsman also features a nonskid, nonmarking sole that will keep your feet in place and comfortable in the heat, the rain, and everything in between. Dubarry of Ireland, (866) 658-3569;

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Get Hitched

The Clovehitch II ($95) from Sebago is a versatile deck shoe that combines performance features with traditional boat-shoe styling. Made from premium nubuck, full-grain leather, with Dri-Lex hydrofoil mesh panels for breathability, and corrosion-resistant eyelets, the Clovehitch II will perform and look good at the helm or at the yacht club. Sebago, (866) 699-7367;