Chris McGrath feels as if he has landed on his feet at Musto. He has been tasked with elevating Musto’s footwear range to a new level of technical performance, and finds himself right back in his element. ‘Working closely with athletes at the top of their game, taking feedback from high-calibre professional sailors, passionate people like Ian Walker and Pete Cumming, and trying to solve the challenges of creating what they want in order to perform at a higher level – that’s the stuff that I love.’
Above: those old-school blue canvas sailing shoes are now de rigueur for today’s fashion kids… but they are rarely if ever seen on the water (OK, other than maybe worn by stewards on a large and similarly fashion conscious superyacht). Today’s best performance deck shoes (or just simple shoes for wrestling in) are much closer to what you will find at your local running track, yet they have to meet a vastly wider and in some ways very much more demanding set of performance criteria. To those still going afloat even in the best traditional ‘deck shoe’, go get some – thing less medieval. Leather deck shoes are fantastic, but when you’re trying not to slide around, sweating on the end of a winch handle, you really need to treat yourself…
In his youth McGrath was no mean athlete in his own right, winning a bronze medal for Great Britain in the Open Water Swimming World Championships in 1994. But since then he has forged a career with an enviable CV in the global sporting arena. ‘I started out working at the McLaren Formula One team for three years, working in 3D design creating gloves, helmets and so on. That’s when I really began to work closely with athletes, listening carefully to what they want. Often you find sports people are frustrated designers; they have some amazing ideas, but you’re the link between that creative spark and bringing it to reality.’ Read on.