Some lineup changes after last year make today's Cape May County Lifeguard Championships even more unpredictable than usual.
The 30th annual Cape May County event begins a summer of beach patrol competition at 6:30 p.m. at Rambler Road beach in Wildwood Crest.
Nine county patrols from Ocean City to Cape May will compete in six races. Cape May Point will not be there.
The races are the doubles row, the rescue-board race, the swim, the run/swim, the singles row and the surf dash.
"There's a lot of new names with some repeaters sprinkled in," Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol chief Bud Johnson said. "It looks wide open and should be good competition."
Stone Harbor won its first County Championship last year, but two of the patrol's standouts, rower Darrick Kobierowski and swimmer Tim Hayes, didn't return to the beach this summer. Stone Harbor, led by veteran Zac Campbell, still brings a formidable lineup. But Ocean City, the 2011 winner, looks strong, along with Sea Isle City, Upper Township, Avalon and Wildwood Crest.
Kobierowski won the singles row for Stone Harbor last year, while Hayes took the run/swim and Sean McCall was first in the swim. Stone Harbor's lineup today has Campbell in the singles, Dan McDevitt in the run/swim, and Villanova University standout Hayley Edwards in the swim. Campbell will also be in the surf dash.
Stone Harbor's Dennis Bakey, second in the doubles row with Kobierowski last year, will combine today with Bryan Wade. The two rowed last August in the South Jersey Lifeguard Championships, but didn't finish in the top five.
"The county championships is a very difficult race to win," Stone Harbor Beach Patrol captain Sandy Bosacco said. "We have a very good, athletic group, but you never can say what will happen."
Ocean City's Dylan Kosten and Matt Garbutt won the county doubles race in 2012, but Garbutt will row today with brother Jeff Garbutt while Kosten will do the singles row and the surf dash. O.C. has Brian Pasternak in the rescue-board race, an event won last year by Matt Rinck of that patrol.
Upper Township won the county surf dash last year, and Pat Curran, Jim Dugan and Ford Palmer return from that team.
There are several good doubles crews, including Wildwood Crest's Brendan Cunningham and Terry McGovern, Avalon's Erich Wolf and Craig Whitehead, Upper Township brothers Jon and Joe O'Neil, Sea Isle's Pat Scannapieco and Mike Hoban, and Cape May's Chris Vittese and Anthony Onimus.
Swimmers to watch include the Crest's Steve Tarnowski, Sea Isle's Blake Trabuchi-Downey, Avalon's Ian Keyser and O.C.'s Mike Kell.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Cape May County Lifeguard
Who: Nine county patrols from Ocean City to Cape May. Cape May Point will not compete
When: 6:30 p.m. today at Rambler Road beach, Wildwood Crest