UPPER TOWNSHIP - The lifeguard alumni crew of Carl Smallwood Jr. and B.J. Fox went from perennial contender to champion Wednesday evening in the Upper Township M.S. Six-Mile Bay Row in the Strathmere section of the township.
The race was shortened by about 200 yards when lightning forced race director Spenser Popeson to end it on the Ocean City side of the Ocean Drive Bridge. The usual finish line is the Deauville Inn. The results were official.
Smallwood, a former Margate lifeguard, and Fox, who guarded in Longport and Atlantic City, won the race in 1 hour, 14 minutes. The Avalon Beach Patrol crew of Craig Whitehead and Erich Wolf finished second in 1:14:55, and Wildwood Crest's Brendan Cunningham and Terry McGovern were third in 1:15:15.
Smallwood is a three-time winner of the race with Margate Chief Rich Kugel, but their last win was in 2006. Smallwood and Fox had rowed the race several times without a win until Wednesday. They were sixth last year, second in 2010 and fifth in 2009.
"We didn't know the race was over (at the bridge) until we got there and they told us," said the 41-year-old Smallwood, the bow and a Margate resident. "The current was really strong coming back. This race is always hard. You can't get into a rhythm like you can in the (20-mile Bud Tarbotton Memorial North Wildwood) Around The Island Row."
Smallwood and Fox won the Around The Island Row in 2008 and 2009.
Fox, 39, had rowed the Six-Mile Bay Row with two other partners, Mike McGrath and John Swift.
"It's something to win it," said Fox, of Margate. "I guess I've rowed it about a dozen times. You get to the point where you think something (bad) is going to happen."
The crew of Jim Swift and Scott Jones, seventh in 1:17:48, won the alumni division. Wildwood Crest's Max Bilkins and Bick Murphy, 16th in 1:20:16, captured the 90-and-over combined division. Margate's Dan Salerno and Danielle Fournier were 17th in 1:20:32 and took the mixed doubles division.
The event also had a paddleboard race with four divisions. Jason Chew of Ocean City won the open division, while Paul Giunta of Somers Point took the 14-foot division. Ryan Taylor was the 12-foot division champion. Andy Giordano, of Seaville in Upper Township, won the stand-up paddleboard division.
The event is a fundraiser for the fight against multiple sclerosis.
Contact Guy Gargan:
1. Margate alumnus-Longport, Atlantic City alumnus (Carl Smallwood Jr.-B.J. Fox) 1:14:00; 2. Avalon (Craig Whitehead-Erich Wolf) 1:14:55; 3. Wildwood Crest (Brendan Cunningham-Terry McGovern) 1:15:15; 4. Upper Township-Wildwood alumnus (Wayne MacMurray-Bill Kindle) 1:16:25; 5. Wildwood (Tom McLaughlin-Steve McGuinn) 1:16:35; 6. Upper Township (Mike Manning-Dan Palombo) 1:17:07; 7. Margate alumnus-Ventnor alumnus (Jim Swift-Scott Jones) 1:17:48; 8. Ventnor alumnus-Ocean City (Tom Sher-Jeff Garbutt) 1:18:28; 9. Cape May (Ed Giordano-Steve Kowalik) 1:18:43; 10. Margate (Joe Palmer-Pat Smith) 1:18:52.