HAMPTON BEACH — Like most catamaran sailors, Mike McClousky likes moving fast.
“With speed comes more risk. There's more danger and thus, more excitement,” said McClousky, a Marblehead, Mass., resident who has about 40 years of sailing under his belt.
To enjoy that risk and excitement, you have to get your boat into the water, and that was an insurmountable challenge for many of the crews who showed up for the annual Father's Day Catamaran Regatta and Race, an early-summer tradition at Hampton Beach.
When high tide hit around 11 a.m., most of the boats were still sitting in the sand while crews waited for the waves to ease up enough for them to slide into the water.
Hampton resident Donna Malcolm stood on the beach and watched her husband, Scott, the commodore for the regatta, struggle in a small motor boat about 200 yards offshore.
Scott Malcolm was trying to anchor a line that the catamarans could use to pull themselves through the heavy surf into deeper water, where they could catch the wind and start to sail.
“It's rough but there's two chase boats out there in case anyone flips over and everybody helps everyone else out,” said Donna Malcolm, who added she doesn't sail.
“I'm on the beach committee,” she said with a laugh. “My husband's in charge of the fleet.”
The Hampton Beach Regatta is one of a series of events organized by the Catamaran Racing Association of Northern New England or C.R.A.N.N.E.
Although some of the crews seemed a little disappointed with the idea of sitting out the race, others made the best of an otherwise beautiful beach day.
Nick Fleury of Meredith was enjoying his first official Father's Day as he waited to see if he could get into the water.
“I used to sail with my wife,” he said. But this time around his wife, Pamela, was busy with the couple's 6-month-old son, Hugo.
“He's seeing his dad sail for the first time,” said Pamela Fleury, who said Hugo will be on board in a few years.
“We'll start him in one of those little boxcar boats,” said Fleury, who seemed to have it all planned out.
David “Dangerous Dave” Heroux made the trip to Hampton Beach from Pomfret Center in Connecticut to sail in the regatta but seemed resigned to staying ashore.
Heroux figured the surf had enough power to easily toss his 16-foot catamaran back up on the sand.
“These are not cocktail boats, and you get used to the rough ride,” he said. But Heroux didn't want to risk getting flipped onto the beach and breaking his mast.
“You don't fool around with mother nature,” he said.
A handful of boats did manage to make it through the waves, and they sailed swiftly up and down the race route. Still, every now and then, even the boats on the water seemed in trouble with the waves.
“This isn't something for the weak of heart,” said McClousky. “But that's what makes it so much fun.”