The 43rd annual Dutch Hoffman Memorial Lifeguard Championships returns to its own tradition at 6:30 p.m. today at the Lincoln Avenue beach in Wildwood.
The Hoffman Memorials, which has gone through several format changes over the years, will have a race slate last seen at the 1998 event.
The mile doubles row will start the evening. The half-mile swim is next, followed by the two-mile beach run and the 1,000-foot singles row.
The Dutch Hoffman Memorials is the first of the “Big Three,” the South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association’s three biggest events. The others are the Margate Beach Patrol World War II Memorial Lifeguard Races on Aug. 3 in Margate, and the South Jersey Lifeguard Championships on Aug. 10 in Ocean City.
“We wanted to go back to the format that made us a ‘Big Three’ event,” said Wildwood Beach Patrol Lt. Jack McGinniss, the Hoffman race director. “The lieutenants and the captain (Steve Stocks) noticed that a lot of the teams weren’t sending their top boats to our event. There were too many races the way we’ve been doing it the last few years. The last race was always in the dark. It will be much shorter now and we should be able to get it in.”
The Dutch Hoffman Memorials had women’s races from 2005 through last year, when the event consisted only of rowing races. The return to the 1998 format eliminated the all-women’s races, too.
“We felt that the women have a lot of their own events and that their side of the competition was filled,” said McGinniss. “There’s a women’s event in Ocean City on the same week as the Hoffma’s, and that’s too much.”
The Margate World War II Memorials and the South Jersey Championships each have just the three races — the doubles row, swim and singles row. The Hoffman Memorials are the only one of the three with a beach run.
“We’re excited about the change back to the old format,” said Stocks. “The three elements of lifeguarding are running, rowing and swimming, and having our races will keep the guards training in those three things.”
The results of the Atlantic City Lifeguard Classic on Sunday may offer some clues about today’s contenders.
Avalon’s Erich Wolf and Craig Whitehead won the A.C. Classic doubles race, but they were only one second ahead of Longport’s Mike McGrath and Sean Duffey. Ventnor’s Mike Tripician and David Funk took third.
In the Classic swim, North Wildwood’s Sean Regan, Sea Isle City’s Blake Trabuchi-Downey and Stone Harbor’s Devin McCall were first, second and third, respectively. Atlantic City’s Carson Rau, who won the paddleboard race Sunday, is entered in the swim today.
The beach run, which is rare event, is difficult to predict. Wildwood’s Mike Syrnick and Upper Township’s Ford Palmer should be near the front. One runner is entered from each patrol.
Margate’s Chuck Gowdy won the A.C. Classic singles race. Also back are Avalon’s Wolf, who was four seconds behind Gowdy on Sunday, and Ventnor’s Funk, who was one second behind Wolf.
The event honors the late Frank “Dutch” Hoffman, a former Wildwood Beach Patrol captain.
Carey swim Saturday
The annual T. John Carey Masters Ocean Swim, postponed on July 21, will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in Ocean City. Signups begin at 7:45 a.m. at the 34th Street beach.
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