The Beachcomber July 2019

As Harvey Cedars Aims to Stay on Top, Epic Tourney Starts Lifeguard Competition Season

By David Biggy | Jul 12, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Billy Webster and the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol competition squad will be going after a fifth straight Long Beach Island Tournament championship this summer.

Surf City — It’s now been more than a decade since another beach patrol other than Barnegat Light or Harvey Cedars has been able to call itself king of the hill on Long Beach Island.

The Light started what has been a 10-year-long stretch in 2009, winning six straight Island Tournament championships through 2014, but Cedars took the reins in 2015 and hasn’t slowed down since, racking up 114 points in last year’s tourney to make it a fourth straight title.

Still, while the Vikings have exerted their dominance in many tournaments throughout the past four summers, Barnegat Light has 22 Island titles to Cedars’ seven and remains “the standard of excellence,” as HCBP’s captain, Randy Townsend, put it last August after his crew won its latest Island crown. And that fact always lends itself to one question – how long will the Cedars reign continue?

“Every year now, the question is: Can we win another? And the answer is yes, of course we can,” Townsend said following last year’s Island tourney. “But every year has new variables, and there’s never any certainty when you’re talking about competing in the ocean and against the ocean. And, let’s be serious. Barnegat Light always has a really good team, and you can never count out Surf City, Ship Bottom and Long Beach Township. This is a hard tournament to win once, never mind four times in a row.”

Hence, the reason Townsend continues to push the Vikings, knowing that each year they win the Island tourney the target on their backs gets bigger.

“I still think we have a lot of work to do,” he said after Cedars won its Cutters Cup tournament yet again. “We’re still pushing for getting as close to perfection as possible. I want everybody to work as hard as they can, so we can constantly evolve as a unit.”

Of course, those who enjoy lifeguard competitions up and down the Island every summer will get to find out whether the Vikings can continue their dominance of the Island tourney later in the season – Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2-3, at the 68th Street beach in Brant Beach, to be exact – but there will be plenty on tap leading up to it.

As has been the case for the past dozen years, the Surf City Epic tournament got the competition season rolling. The five-event, relay-style competition, in which teams must use both male and female guards for each event, was won by Harvey Cedars for a fourth consecutive year on July 8.

On Tuesday, July 16, this year starting at 8 a.m., the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol hosts its annual Women’s Invitational. Surf City’s ladies, who have won the last two titles, last year won nine of the 11 events to dominate the competition, outdistancing Barnegat Light by 26 points.

For those who enjoy the intrasquad competition that is the LBTBP Mayor’s Cup, the crews from Loveladies/North Beach, Brant Beach, Spray Beach, Holgate and Beach Haven Crest will put their skills to the test on Friday and Saturday, July 19-20, with a 5:45 p.m. start each day.

This year, Ship Bottom Beach Patrol’s Jack Donlon Memorial Tournament – which last year featured Atlantic County powerhouses Brigantine, Ocean City and Atlantic City – is set for Tuesday, July 30, on the 19th Street beach with a 6 p.m. start time. And while an official date hasn’t yet been set, the Harvey Cedars Cutters Cup typically is right after the Island tourney, but Townsend said it may find its way onto the schedule before that.

Meanwhile, the Ship Bottom Beach Patrol’s Barnegat Bay Challenge, a 5-mile paddle race consisting of multiple divisions, is tentatively set for Monday, Aug. 19, but it, too, may be switched because the Cape to Cape Paddle Race, the 17-mile Delaware Bay race that ends in Cape May, is set for Sunday, Aug. 18.

— David Biggy

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