ANNAPOLIS -- Every October for the past 21 years, this city has filled with sailboats, sailing equipment and sailors intent on seeing the latest and the greatest the world's sailing market has to offer.
This weekend, even given the flat state of the economy and the impact of user fees and an excise tax, should be no different, as the 22nd United States Sailboat Show ties up at the city docks.
For the sailor there is virtually everything imaginable on display in the water or on the docks -- from an 88-foot steel schooner to the first new Laser introduced in 20 years.
The schooner will not be for sale, but tours of the Ocean Star, which was built for Ocean Navigator magazine as a training school for blue-water navigating, will be available for boarding throughout the show, which is open to the general public from tomorrow through Monday.
Today is press-trade day at the show, and a limited number of tickets are available to the public at premium prices.
General admission to the show is $8 for those older than 12 and $4 for those 12 and younger, including infants.
The new boat from Laser is called the Grand Prix, a souped-up version of the design that has become a standard sail trainer and popular one-design racer since its inception in 1969.
While the Grand Prix is the refinement of a 20-year tradition, the Multihull Section at the sailboat show will provide a glimpse of the untraditional -- a trimaran from England called the Planesail.
The Planesail is a 54-footer that is 31 feet wide and a Walker Wingsail System that uses two fixed vertical wings and a vertical tail for power.
The trimaran, which uses solar power to control its wings and is steered with a computer program and the use of a sports-car-style steering wheel and a joystick, is the first boat of its kind to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
In all, there are 16 large cruising and racing multihulls at the show, including the 32-foot Gemini 3200 built by Performance Cruising in Mayo.
A radical monohull, the 65-foot Amoco Procyon, also will be on display.
The Amoco Procyon has an A-frame mast, a pendulum keel, movable water ballast and self-furling mainsail and jib. The boat's bipod mast is 95 feet tall, built of carbon fiber and hinged so it can be lowered to pass beneath bridges.
Designed by Britton Chance, the Amoco Procyon also has a canting keel that can swing as many as 25 degrees to windward to increase stability and reduce heeling.
The designers of the boat, which carries 2,200 square feet of sail, say it can sail up to 30 percent faster than a comparable conventional sailboat.
For conventional sailors, of course, there will be the newest designs from the best designers and builder in the world, as well as some 100 smaller boats and 350 exhibitors offering everything from financing packages to cotter pins.
The Cabo Rico 38, Cherubini 48 and Endeavor 52 will be on display.
Five boats from the First Series by Beneteau and four Oceanis cruisers will be shown, as will the 12-boat Hunter fleet, six boats from Island Packet, five new boats from Jeanneau, four new Tartans, two Tripps and two Valiants.
The real goldplaters will be there as well, including the Alden 44, Hinckley's Sou'wester 43, the Swan 55 and the Little Harbor 58.
In contrast to the luxury lifestyles of the goldplaters and the creature comforts of the mid-range cruising boats, an 80-footer named Fazisi will put in an appearance.
The Fazisis, you may recall, was sailed by a Russian group in the last Whitbread Round the World Race and was perhaps best described as an oceangoing surfboard. Its accommodations are sparse, its design unusual and some say unforgiving.
If you ever have thought of racing around the world, go aboard and take a look at how the Russians lived through 27,000 miles of the Whitbread.
You will come away with a greater appreciation for the design and construction that has gone into virtually every other yacht in the show.
Show at a glance
What: 22nd United States Sailboat Show
Where: City dock and harbor, Annapolis
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., tomorrow through Sunday. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
Admission: Adults, $8; children 12 and younger, including infants, $4.
0$ Show information: (301) 268-8828