Julie Huss/Staff photo Carl Hepworth stands by Beaver Lake. The longtime lake resident hopes to begin a barefoot water skiing group and invites anyone interested to contact him.

DERRY — Carl Hepworth remembers many years spent on Beaver Lake getting his feet wet.

Since he was a little boy, Hepworth has had lots of fun boating, swimming, fishing and water skiing on the lake.

Now 57, Hepworth hopes to jump back into a favorite sport — feet first — and invites others to join him.

He plans to take up barefoot water skiing again, a sport he loves but has been away from for several years.

When his father built a small lakeside cabin in 1940, Hepworth's life on the lake began, giving him opportunities to play on the water and participate in just about every water sport available.

Hepworth now lives in Londonderry, but spends the warm months along the lake in his family cabin. He takes part in all the water sports he loves — and appreciates Beaver Lake as a spot for families to gather for water fun. Hepworth said the time is right to once again take to the water behind a boat.

First documented in 1947 in Cypress Garden, Fla., skier Dick Pope took to the waters for the premier "barefooting" action.

"I've missed it," Hepworth said.

He said it has been a while since he tried the ski-less method of skimming across the lake. The boats go faster and "skiing" without skis can be more difficult than typical water skiing. There have been injuries along the way that dampened his skiing spirit.

Hepworth said he now works hard to stay in shape and prepare for the water season ahead. The water skiing season is rather short, he said, so he wants to be ready.

With the proper boat and barefoot skiing equipment, including the specially padded wet suit, a trained sportsman can have a lot of fun taking their water skis off and going it barefoot.

"I'm trying to get people to come out and learn with me," he said. "And I'll be starting out from step one again."

Hepworth said safety is key. Anyone who wants to learn to ski the proper way is welcome at the lake, he said, but they need a valid New Hampshire boater's license and the proper wet suit and equipment.

"My aim is to start all over again and do it the right way," Hepworth said.

For all his years spent on Beaver Lake, Hepworth said the lake's staying power is its intimate size and the friendliness of its residents, both seasonal and year-round.

"It's really a luxury," he said. "It's a little piece of paradise, a little piece of heaven. I don't know what I would do without it."

Anyone interested in joining Hepworth for some "barefooting" action on the lake can e-mail him at barefootbeaverlake@yahoo.com.

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