AVALON - Several beach patrols were competitive at the 30th annual David J. Kerr Jr. Memorial Lifeguard Races at the 35th Street beach Sunday night.
The Avalon Beach Patrol needed a win in the surf dash to win its home event, and got that to seal the victory.
Avalon's Matt Wolf, Jeff Heath, Dylan Hughes, Brett Fitzpatrick and and Jake Enright won the surf dash wire-to-wire for Avalon. Wolf took the lead during the first leg, and the home team never trailed.
The victory gave Avalon its 21st team title in the 30 years of the Kerr Memorials. With the scoring being 5-3-1 for the first three places, Avalon totaled 14 points. Upper Township won the iron-man relay and finished second with nine points. Ventnor's crew of Matt Given and David Funk won the doubles row, and Ventnor placed third overall with nine points.
"It was a good race, with the scoring spread out," said Avalon Beach Patrol captain Murray Wolf, who is Matt Wolf's father. "It was nice to see David Funk here, and we asked Brigantine to come because they have one of the top swimmers in South Jersey (Shane McKenzie, who won the Kerr swim). There's some things we have to work on, but we were fortunate to win. Our (surf-dash) relay and our singles row have been been especially tough."
Erich Wolf, who is also Murray Wolf's son, won the singles row for Avalon, beating Funk by about two boat-lengths.
"It's an advantage to me to row this race because I row here every day," Erich Wolf, 27, said. "In other towns, you have high rises and tall buildings to look at (as markers) on shore to have something to steer on, but here it's only sand dunes. I'm familiar with it, and that worked in my favor."
Ventnor's Given and Funk won the doubles race by two boat-lengths. Enright and Matt Wolf took second, and the Avalon's Erich Wolf and Craig Whitehead third.
With the Kerr Memorials always close to the South Jersey Championships (Friday in Margate), Funk often often skips the Kerr event.
"Sometimes the Kerr race is on Monday or Tuesday, but today it was on a Sunday and that was better," Funk, 35, said. "It was a good chance to get another hard row in, and see what we have to work on. It was a good opportunity to get in one more race."
Upper Township's Kevin Gill, Ford Palmer and Dan Palombo won the iron-man relay. The race is a swim-run-row event.
Gill was second to McKenzie in the swim leg, and Palmer took the lead during the half-mile swim leg. Palombo rowed his team to the win in a singles-row leg.
It was Palombo's first win against other other patrols.
"It was good to pull it out," Palombo, 19, said. "Kevin and Ford are two of the top athletes down here. I had to do my best to make sure their effort didn't got to waste."
McKenzie got up first in the swim and beat Gill by about 7 yards. After about 10 more seconds, Wildwood Crest's Steve Tarnowski edged Avalon's Ian Keyser for third.
Contact Guy Gargan: