Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol Edges Ocean City in Cutters Cup Tournament

By DAVID BIGGY | Aug 15, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol’s Shane Stauffer awaits the start of the Swim Relay during the Cutters Cup Lifeguard Tournament on Aug. 7.

It almost seemed like a conspiracy had unfolded during the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol Cutters Cup Lifeguard Tournament on Aug. 7, as if a pair of Long Beach Island patrols helped their local brothers to oust one of the big guns from farther south.

“Ocean City always has a great competition team, and they’ve been near the top in our tournament a lot,” said Cedars Capt. Randy Townsend, whose crew pulled off another victory with 44 points, edging Ocean City by three. “But Atlantic City showed up as well, and we were stoked to have two South Jersey teams, because it added more strength to our tournament.”

And, sure, Cedars was equally as strong. But the Vikings trailed Ocean City heading into the last event – the Block Pull Relay – and had to clear a three-point deficit to win the tourney. A tie would have resulted in Ocean City knocking off Cedars for the first time since the tournament’s inception, because O.C. had more first-place finishes.

That’s when Ship Bottom and Beach Haven sort of came to the rescue. The SBBP crew of Pat Carey, Jake Andryshak, Shawn Hannon, Nick Leek, Ben Heuth and Mike Cascio finished first in the relay, with Beach Haven’s squad right behind them. The Cedars bunch managed third place in a very tight race all the way through the ranks.

But Ocean City finished sixth, and the six-point difference between it and HCBP allowed the Vikings to vault into the top spot in the standings. Atlantic City finished third overall with 33 points, followed by Ship Bottom with 30 and Barnegat Light with 29.

“It’s amazing that, year after year, our team just keeps rising to the occasion,” Townsend said. “Everybody who competes for us is super meticulous about what they’re doing. They know where they want to be and how they’re going to get there, always crossing their Ts and dotting their Is.”

With a heavy fog hanging over the turn markers in the ocean, things started off a bit slow for Cedars, as Ocean City won the first two events – the Doubles Row and Paddleboard Relay – while it was Barnegat Light keeping pace, taking second and third during the first two events, then following with a first-place effort by Zak Westerberg, Nolan Kuscan, Mike Smith and Mike Macchia in the Swim Relay.

After three events, The Light was out in front with 25 points and Ocean City sat in the second spot with 23. With a pair of second-place finishes in the second and third events, Cedars loomed in third with 21 points.

In the Row Relay, O.C. cruised to an easy win ahead of HCBP and the two vaulted into the top two positions in the standings to stay. In the Rescue Relay –  during which the competitors weren’t even visible 200 feet from the beach – Atlantic City snagged the top spot, followed by the Cedars team of Paul Blankemeyer, Ryan Corcoran, Billy Webster, Mike and Otto Weiler and Townsend in second. Ocean City took third, as the Vikings trimmed the deficit to three points.

“Things have changed a lot since I joined the patrol in 1998,” said Tim Goldstein, who was part of the crews for the paddle and block relays. “Those first 10 years were tough. But with Randy leading the way, his work ethic and competitiveness have rubbed off on pretty much everybody here. Nowadays, everybody on the patrol takes training seriously. That’s really what it comes down to – everybody is training.”

Of course, winning helps.

“We have more experienced guards who are either great athletes or great watermen, or both, and if they’re not working out they’re planning for the next event and strategizing,” Goldstein said. “And the winning helps. It keeps everybody motivated to keep getting better.”

And that is why the Vikings not only have won four straight Island Tournament titles but a whole bunch of others during the past five years, Townsend said.

“I still think we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “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, public safety is first for us. But we want to stay motivated to do our best in competition as well.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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