Brigantine Edges Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol in Ship Bottom Invitational

By David Biggy | Aug 07, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Billy Webster and Randy Townsend cruise to victory in the Paddle Pickup during the Ship Bottom Invitational lifeguard tournament on July 30.

Ship Bottom — Sometimes in lifeguard races, an oar, or the lack of one, makes a difference. For the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol, it was the difference between taking the top spot and second place in the Ship Bottom Beach Patrol’s Jack Donlon Memorial Invitational tournament on July 30.

“I feel bad for our 1,000-foot rowers,” said Randy Townsend after the captain’s squad fell two points short of Brigantine, which won the tourney with 27 points. “If we don’t snap an oar 15 strokes into the race, we might have had a different result tonight.”

In what turned out to be a dress rehearsal for the upcoming weekend’s Island Tournament, the Vikings swam and ran their way to a fantastic start when Shane Stauffer, Jarrod Shoemaker and Ryan Corcoran easily won the Surf Dash Relay to give their team the initial lead.

During the next event, the 1,000-foot Row, Ship Bottom’s Shawn Hannon and Jim LeMarco were nearly neck and neck with the crew from Ocean City, as the two boats rounded the turn marker about the same time. As Ocean City powered through the second leg of the race, Hannon and LeMarco stayed within a few strokes of the lead. However, O.C. caught a small wave to help edge the SBBP duo.

Meanwhile, Kevin Wessler was relegated to rowing mostly by himself for three-quarters of the race after J.J. Weiss’ right oar snapped in half about 200 feet into the race, yielding a last-place finish and zero points for the event. Despite the pitfall, Cedars jumped right back into the lead in the next event when Townsend was first to the buoy and he and Billy Webster cruised to victory in the Paddle Pickup.

With 12 boats in the Atlantic for the fourth event, the Row Relay, Ship Bottom’s three sets of rowers managed to stay near the front of the pack throughout the race, trailing Brigantine by only a few yards heading into the final turn. As Hannon and LeMarco stroked their way into the final 100 feet, they were surged to the front by a wave and ended up straight onto the beach, where Hannon jumped ship and outran one of his Brigantine competitors to the finish line.

After four events, Ship Bottom and Harvey Cedars were tied with Ocean City and Brigantine, all with 15 points and two events remaining.

Of course, the fifth event just happened to be one of Cedars’ best – the Paddle Relay. Joe Pantaleo was near the front of the pack through the first leg before giving the board over to Billy Webster, who powered the Vikings into the lead and a wave to the beach gave Corcoran a cushion. After he maintained the lead, Corcoran delivered the board to Townsend, and the captain easily capped the winning effort to give his team 22 points and a two-point lead over Brigantine.

In the Ironman Medley, HCBP’s five-man squad trailed Brigantine the entire way, and heading into the final rowing leg it appeared Brigantine and Cedars might end up first and second, respectively, for the event and tied with 27 points – a tiebreaker would have favored the Vikings.

But Ocean City’s rowers caught and passed the Cedars duo of Brady Stauffer and Nate Castiello out to the marker and pulled up behind Brigantine down the stretch to grab second, forcing Cedars to earn third-place points for the event and 25 total, while Ship Bottom ended the medley in fourth.

Following Brigantine and Harvey Cedars, Ocean City finished third with 21 points, and the host squad took fourth with 20. Sea Girt finished a distant fifth with five points.

“For us, this tournament is about having some fun,” Townsend said. “Whenever you get the opportunity to race with some of the teams from north and south of here, that just makes the tournament more of a pleasure. We like racing those bigger patrols because they add a lot to the competition. And because the Ship Bottom guys run such a great event, it gave all of us a chance to take our crack at them. That’s what makes it fun.”

— David Biggy

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