Recreation: Off-Season Soundings

There was the familiar forest of sails fluttering from aluminum masts, the spinnakers billowing out with the help of nearby fans, and the dinghies bobbing in pools of water as gangs of urchins swarmed over the luxury yachts to ogle the bulkhead-to-bulkhead carpeting and built-in barbecue grills. But potential buyers at Manhattan's 56th National Boat Show were most interested in the small boats, the fastest-selling items in a sport that has 8,000,000 devotees and annual sales of $2.6 billion.

Stability, light weight and low cost are the small boatman's criteria. In dinghies, Chapman Yates leads the fleet with its new...

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