Some of the top area lifeguard and alumni rowers will get a 7 a.m. start Wednesday in the 37th annual Bud Tarbotton Memorial North Wildwood Beach Patrol Around The Island Row.

The 20-mile race begins at lst and Surf avenues in North Wildwood and goes in a counter-clockwise direction around Wildwood island. The finish line is at the 15th Avenue beach in North Wildwood.

The doubles crews in lifeguard surfboats row first through Hereford Inlet and under the Stone Harbor Bridge at the top of Wildwood. They continue through the back bay and under the Cape May Bridge. Then it's on to the Cold Spring Inlet at the bottom of the island. The race proceeds into the ocean and goes up through Wildwood Crest and Wildwood to 15th Avenue.

"A lot of the crews this year are guys who don't always row together," said race director Bill Ciavarelli, a North Wildwood Beach Patrol captain. "But they're always training and it wouldn't take much for them to do well together. A lot of these crews are geared for long-distance racing."

The Wildwood Crest team of Brendan Cunningham and Terry McGovern won last year in their first island row together in 2 hours, 49 minutes, 11 seconds. They'll be back, along with the alumni crew of Carl Smallwood Jr. and B.J. Fox. Smallwood and Fox won the race in 2008 and 2009 and took third last year.

The most obvious makeshift crew is Margate's Chuck Gowdy and Ventnor's Mike Tripician. Gowdy won the South Jersey singles row title on Sunday in Ocean City, and Tripician won the doubles row with partner David Funk.

Funk will row with Ventnor alumnus George Miller. Dennis Funk, David's father, is Miller's longtime rowing partner, but the elder Funk is not competing this year.

Other crews include Avalon's Craig Whitehead and Matt Wolf, Wildwood Crest's Max Bilkins and Bick Murphy, and Cape May's Geoff Rife and Jim Wadlow. Upper Township's Wayne MacMurray will row with Wildwood alumnus Bill Kindle.

The event honors the late Tarbotton, who founded the race in 1976 while a member of the North Wildwood City Council.

Contact Guy Gargan:

609-272-7210