As the 60th annual Beach Patrol Tournament on Long Beach Island approaches, Zak Westerberg understood the implications of his team’s placement in Ship Bottom’s annual Jack Donlon Memorial competition last week.
“It’s a great tournament with really talented teams, that’s why getting third place is amazing for us,” Barnegat Light Beach Patrol racing team captain said, after The Light scored 19 points. to take third place among 10 teams, including the other five from LBI, on July 26. “It’s a good step towards next week. We are delighted to have taken third place here.
Of course, while the field won’t be quite as deep this Friday, August 5 – and there won’t be a solid group of off-island teams in the mix to steal points from other LBI teams – the BLBP’s finish in Ship Bottom sets up an intriguing match for the island title, considering The Light finished second to six-time defending champion Harvey Cedars by one point a year ago and that this year’s tournament will be held on 22nd Street at Barnegat Light.
“We’re focused on the island tournament,” said HCBP captain Randy Townsend. “Like every other beach patrol here and along the Jersey Shore, we use these tournaments and all the outdoor tournaments as a way to warm up for our bigs, which for us is the island tournament. Nineteen events, six teams… all in play for a single title. It’s gonna be fun.”
At the Ship Bottom Invitational last week, Brigantine and Lavallette had the most fun, scoring 23 points each, with Brigantine carrying the yardstick for the most first-place finishes to claim the overall title. With BLBP third, Harvey Cedars was just behind in fourth with 17 points – it had been years since the Vikings finished in the top three – and Tommy Smith’s host crew Ship Bottom fifth with 15 points. Surf City took sixth place with 10 points, while Long Beach Township and Beach Haven were ruled out.
“The water was cold, but everyone did okay,” said Smith, sporting a bandage around his head after being hit by an oar during the Row Relay. “You do what you can and you hope to receive the right cards by the ocean. We’re really happy with how we finished. We had some good races, and it’s all about getting better. have fun.
After Lavallette took first place in the swim relay, the Barnegat Light team of Lenny Brown, Ellis Prescott, Dan Listor and Maddie Cooke took second place points, and the HCBP quartet of Pat Stasio , Billy Webster, Mike Waterhouse and Brady Stauffer took third place.
Brigantine took the 1000 Foot Row victory ahead of Ship Bottom’s Shawn Hannon and Jim LeMarco, while Lavallette and Cedars finished third and fourth, respectively.
BLBP’s Hugh Shields and Gavin Schulze took advantage of a big wave at the north end of the course during the Paddle Pickup to propel their team to the top of the leaderboard, albeit momentarily.
Harvey Cedars snatched his only first-place points of the night in a wild in-line relay that saw several lead changes. Surf City’s Mark Dileo and Charlie Osborne took the initial lead and beat Brigantine to the beach for the first transition, but Brigantine used a powerful second leg to go out in front, only to have his boat capsize in the waves as he was approaching the beach for the final transition. Despite the incident, Brigantine still pitched first for the third leg, and the Cedars duo of Webster and Townsend gave chase as they headed for the corner marker.
Midway through the final lap from the marker to the beach, Townsend and Webster rowed Brigantine and leaped through their opposition with 75 yards to go, before Townsend jumped and raced to the finish for first place, pushing the Vikings to a tie with Brigantine at 14. points each.
After Brigantine and Lavallette scored the top two places in the Paddle Relay – Ship Bottom and Cedars took third and fourth respectively – Barnegat Light capped off their effort with victory in the Ironman Medley, in which Brown finished the racing near the front of the pack, Listor put BLBP in the lead on the return swim, and Shields made sure the lead was a solid 60 yards out of the paddle leg. Christian DiAntonio and Stephen Walsh navigated the boat through its 1,000 foot leg without threat.
“With a tournament like this, it’s always important to strike a balance between the players’ experience for the future and trying to do well in the moment,” Westerberg said. “We had a lot of competitors there, and they did their best. This tournament is always exciting because the competition is so good.
If the Harvey Cedars crew were in any way disappointed with their finish, Townsend said nothing.
“The ocean did its thing and we ended up where we ended up,” he said. “We didn’t have our full squad, but we were excited to have some new guards to give them experience against really good competition. We will be ready for the island tournament. The ocean is an ever-changing environment, and we all need to be prepared for all circumstances, situations and conditions, which we will be.
The following day, Ship Bottom was the top performing team on the island of Ortley Beach, taking first place. Smith said conditions at Barnegat Light are quite different from those further south on LBI, but he’s not worried.
“We have a strong team going to BL, and it will be interesting to see what cards we have up there,” he said. “There’s not a lot of surf up there, but we’re good with it. It could be an advantage for us.