VENTNOR — A rough ocean and strong wind had an immediate impact at the 51st annual John T. Goudy Memorial Rescue Races on Friday at the Suffolk Avenue beach.
The Goudy Memorials is a fun and exciting event with a rescue theme because all the lifeguards row or swim to flags about 500 feet out and bring back 50-pound dummies to the finish line on the beach.
Margate’s Shane Dickson and Hunter Pizagno rowed to the flag in the doubles surfboat rescue race (doubles row) and found the dummy had been blown off its hinge and wasn’t there. The two eventually tied for first place in the race, and that helped Margate win its second Goudy Memorials team title in three years.
“We started screaming to the officials on the JetSki(near the rowers) that there was no bag, and they tried to throw us a bag, but it missed,” said Dickson, 21, the bow. “Then they told us to just row to the end.”
Dickson and Pizagno won the Goudy doubles race in 2015, when Margate last took the team crown.
“Hunter and I have been rowing together for five years, since our rookie year,” Dickson said. “It feels awesome to win it, and win (the team title).
Dickson and Pizagno arrived at the beach near the end about even with Longport’s Mike McGrath and Tim Schwegman. Both teams ran to the line in a close finish, with Dickson and Pizagno noticeably not carrying a dummy.
The race, the first of the night, was declared a tie, and the five first-place points started Margate on its way. The clincher for Margate was Chuck Gowdy’s third straight victory in the Goudy’s individual surfboat rescue (singles row), the last race.
Margate scored 11 points for first place. Defending champion Atlantic City was second with nine points. Harvey Cedars, with a win by swimmer Jeff Shanley, also scored nine points, but A.C. got second place with a higher finish in the doubles row, the tiebreaker.
“It feels great to win the race and the team title,” said Pizagno, 20. “We knew Chuck would be there at the end.”
Gowdy rowed through the choppy waves to the singles row win, with Ventnor’s David Funk second and Atlantic City’s Vince Granese third.
“An ocean like this makes it interesting,” said Gowdy, 34. “It wasn’t a straight pull. This was ocean rowing. It takes experience and a lot of luck.
“it’s great to have three wins in a row because this is a rescue race. It’s just like what we do on the job.”
Lavallette’s Joe Caucino, a 59-year-old, 42nd-year lifeguard, called his win in the combination rescue his greatest moment in lifeguarding. He was rowing with son Joe Jr. The Lavallette swimmer was Jake Limaldi.
“It’s great to win a race with my son,” said the elder Caucino.
In the combination, a swimmer goes to a flag, unhooks the dummy, swims toward shore and is met by a doubles crew. The three come to shore at the end.
“It was awesome,” said Caucino Jr., 22. “Once we got the bag in the boat, we rowed double-time and got the bag over the line.”
Shanley won the Goudy swim rescue for the second straight year, finishing in 9 minutes, 5 seconds. Wildwood Crest’s Jon Burkett was second and Lavallette’s Ben Smith took third.