Plunge Sailing Shoes by Sebago

A combination of ample padding and efficient drainage makes these shoes excellent for day-to-day racing. "Gear Up" from our July 2, 2008, /SW eNewsletter/

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Courtesy Sebago

As conditions change on the water, so too does the comfortable racer's attire. When a cool breeze fills in, whipping up spray, you might slip on a pair of salopettes or a spray-top. With the wind at your back on a long, hot run, you might shed a layer or two. One piece of your outfit you can't easily change, however, is your shoes, so it's nice to have some versatility underfoot.

For the past few months I've been wearing Sebago's Plunge sailing shoes for weeknight racing in Newport, R.I.'s J/22, J/24, and Shields fleets. As the weather has changed from cool and wet to hot and dry, the shoes have kept my feet happy. They pair comfortably with socks for colder conditions and offer plenty of ventilation when it gets hot.

The Plunge shoes are a bit bulkier--more towards a tennis shoe--than the Sperry Figawi 2 shoes I reviewed last summer, but added padding in places like the tongue and the Achilles notch provides extra comfort over the long haul. As someone who has long craved a pair of Nike Air Jordans, I can appreciate the air pocket embedded in the sole of the Plunge shoes. Besides looking cool, the bubble adds welcome cushion beneath the ball of the foot. Sebago's Siphon system, a series of screens, water channels, and vents, allows the Plunge shoes to shed water efficiently and dry quickly. I hang mine on a line after Tuesday night racing and they're dry by Wednesday morning.

The non-marking sole is rigid but grippy, and it wraps up around the toe for extra protection against the inevitable stub. Reinforced ridges between the mesh and synthetic leather uppers provide lateral stability so your foot doesn't roll over when you plant it awkwardly against a toe rail. A subdued, black, white, and grey color scheme gives the Plunge shoes a relatively low profile, which can be a relief if, after racing, you happen to wear them into the Thai restaurant to pick up take-out. I attracted several stares as I walked up to the counter, but it wasn't my shoes the diners were gawking at, it was the bright red backside of my Slam salopettes (about which I'll write sometime soon).