Surf Boats Aside, LBI Beach Patrols Prep for Red Bull Surf and Rescue Competition

Jul 11, 2018
Photo by: Greg Mionske / Red Bull Content Pool Several Island Beach Patrols will compete in the Red Bull Surf + Rescue competition next Tuesday night, July 17 in Atlantic City.

The fourth annual Red Bull Surf and Rescue competition in Atlantic City will take place on Tuesday, July 17. Beach patrols from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will send their most elite athletes to battle it out in a four-round competition. However, this year, the Red Bull event comes with a change: no surf boats.

Bronzed guards in Van Duynes, forging into white breakers and oaring over salty crests, are a thing of the past. Though rescue boats have been something of a tradition within LBI’s beach patrol culture, the 2018 Red Bull event will place an emphasis on swimming, sprinting and prone paddling categories.

“It’s a shame that the row component was removed entirely because rowing has always had a central place in New Jersey surf lifesaving culture,” said Randy Townsend, captain of the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol. Townsend will be competing at the event with his A-team lineup: Ryan Corcoran, Jenna Parker and Jarrod Shoemaker.

This year’s competition will replace the final surf boat round with a rescue relay, described as a “grueling double rescue scenario of a Paddle Pick-up and Swim Rescue” involving all four team members. While the preliminary rounds test the raw athleticism of competitors, the newest final round will test the instinctual, universal lifesaving skills required of lifeguards everywhere.

Red Bull Surf and Rescue Technical Director Bruckner Chase said the decision to remove surf boats was made to paint a broader picture of the lifeguard history and culture, one that’s inclusive to the entire East Coast, not just the Mid-Atlantic.

“There’s a rich history up and down the whole shore. We wanted to experiment with evolving the event and highlighting all that the lifeguards do, not just in New Jersey, but all along the coast.”

Chase, an Ocean City resident, said they’ve already had a handful of new teams sign up this year that hadn’t signed up the previous year. He said for teams who didn’t have access to surf boats, the rowing category was a road block.

“The decision was made this year to highlight not boats, but the rescue scenario,” said Chase, stressing that while the event is an entertaining opportunity for patrols to showcase their skills, the event’s main objective is to emphasize the greater purpose lifeguards serve within their communities.

“Tuesday night is important, but the save they do Wednesday at noon is far more important.”

The winning team will be awarded a 2018 Polaris GENERAL 4 1000, a top of the line off-roading vehicle, to optimize patrol operations.

Barnegat Light Beach Patrol race captain Mike Smith will be taking Sarah Button, Mike Macchia and Nolan Kuscan with him to Atlantic City this year. Smith believes the surfboat elimination will present new challenges for competitors.

“In the past, teams have had to bring two experienced rowers to have a shot at first place, but with no rowing this year, teams will be bringing their best swimmers and paddlers. That’s going to make getting through the swim and paddle round much tougher.”

For Ship Bottom race captain Shawn Hannon, this will be his fourth year attending the event.

“Everyone on our team can do everything: swim, paddle and run. We truly love the Van Duyne boats. That’s Ship Bottom’s most dominant event, but everyone on the team is super well-rounded,” said Hannon.

Despite the major program change this year, LBI’s teams are still looking forward to the Red Bull Surf and Rescue competition, a celebration of oceanic athletes and a tribute to the men and women who brave Mother Nature to protect our shores.

“At the end of the day, we are honored to have the opportunity to race again this year, to represent the town of Harvey Cedars, and we hope that the event will continue to inspire an elevation in the skills of the guards protecting the New Jersey coastline,” said Townsend.

For more information about the event, visit redbull.com/us-en/events/surf-and-rescue.

— Sarah Hodgson 

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