A man whose catamaran flipped off a Hawkes Bay beach in rough conditions was fortunate to be spotted by onshore observers, police say.

"He was lucky that there were people watching from their balcony," Constable Rickardo Townshend of Napier police said. "He may have been out there a long time otherwise.

"At first we were concerned as we couldn't get obs (visuals). We could see one person sitting on the hull of the boat, but we didn't know if there were others in the water. He wasn't waving out or anything so that's always a good sign."

The Westshore Beach inflatable rescue boat was dispatched about 3.30pm yesterday, to check on the man who was floating about 1km out from shore directly in front of The Esplanade.


Two life guards stayed with the stranded skipper for about an hour until Napier Coast Guard arrived.

He was wearing a lifejacket and was not injured during the ordeal.

"He was just a bit cold and a bit tired, we got him on board and gave him an assessment.

"I think he had been in the water for about an hour," Coast Guard duty skipper Glenn McAdam said.

"He wanted to attempt to flip the catamaran, but after a few goes, we towed the boat as close to shore as possible, then [the catamaran skipper] swam in with one of our crew to assist him."

Mr McAdam was not sure exactly how the boat had flipped but noted the conditions were "quite rough", after the wind had picked up.

"I'm not sure how experienced he was, but he had a lifejacket on and was doing everything right as far as I could see."

The stranding was a reminder to always wear a lifejacket, carry two forms of communication and notify someone of your whereabouts.