Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol Takes Aim at Making History This Summer

Jun 27, 2018
Photo by: File photo After capturing a third straight Long Beach Island Tournament championship last year, the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol will look to become only the third squad to win four consecutive titles in the tournament history.

Randy Townsend is a smart guy. He knows how to choose his words carefully and not provide bulletin board material for other beach patrols. But the question is: Does he really have to say much of anything anymore?

After barely winning the Long Beach Island Lifeguard Tournament two summers ago, the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol captain stood by during the final three events of last year’s tourney – knowing the Vikings already had clinched a third straight title – almost awestruck, simply awaiting the final results.

“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Townsend eventually said after his crew crushed the other five squads, totaling 119 points and finishing 30 points higher than second-place Barnegat Light, 35 points ahead of third-place Ship Bottom. “We didn’t want to have a shadow of a doubt this year.”

So the Vikings left no doubt, and in the process watched that target on their collective back get a little bigger – actually, a lot bigger. Harvey Cedars hadn’t accomplished a three-peat at the Island tourney since the mid-1970s. Now, the question becomes how far Cedars can take its current win streak, or whether it will continue at all. The only patrols to win four or more consecutive Island tourney titles are Barnegat Light and Long Beach Township..

“We have another challenge to face, and it’s exciting,” Townsend said after last year’s rout. “And I guarantee there’s not one of our race-team members who’s not going to put in 190 percent between now and then, knowing that everybody else is coming after us.”

Well, Jeff Shanley won’t be. Townsend recently confirmed Shanley is not back with Cedars for this summer, leaving it with one fewer really good swimmer. However, the Vikings had plenty of swimmers last season besides Shanley – Ryan Corcoran, Paul Blankemeyer, Tim Daly, veteran Brady Stauffer and his son, Shane, among them – so the loss of Shanley can be overcome.

Still, as Townsend has said plenty of times before, competing in the ocean isn’t as predictable as many might like it to be, so we’ll just have to wait until Aug. 3 and 4 to find out if another beach patrol can dethrone the Vikings. But one thing is sure – at least two other teams are going to take their shots.

Barnegat Light, which hasn’t finished lower than third in any year of the tournament’s 55-year history, most likely will be in the mix again this year, especially given its strength in the rowing and swimming events. Ship Bottom, which knocked off Cedars during last year’s Jack Donlon Memorial Invitational, probably has enough rowers and paddlers to make a run at Cedars, but likely has to develop a few more swimmers beyond Chris Durbin and generate bigger points with its female guards to put pressure on Cedars. Of course, you never can count out Surf City or Long Beach Township.

Nonetheless, the buildup toward the Island tourney begins Monday, July 2, when the Surf City Epic Tournament starts off the competition season at 6 p.m. on the beach at Fifth Street. From there, many of the Island’s six beach patrols will have teams competing in off-Island events – Red Bull Surf and Rescue on July 17 in Atlantic City being one of them – before the rest of the big stuff happens here on the Island.

On Monday, July 23, Ship Bottom is hoping to host 14 other teams for the annual Donlon Memorial tourney at the 19th Street beach, while Long Beach Township is set to host its third annual Women’s Invitational on Tuesday, July 24, at the 68th Street beach.

Of course, LBTBP will hold its Mayor’s Cup tournament Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21, to see which of its five patrols bring their best and qualify for the Island tournament events, before hosting the main event on Aug. 3 and 4. And once the Island tourney is out of the way, HCBP will host its annual Cutter’s Cup the following week on a date to be determined.

For those interested in catching some of the action in the Lifeguard-in-Training tournaments, Beach Haven is scheduled to host one July 19, while Long Beach Township has one slated for July 30 and Cedars has another set for Aug. 8.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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