MARGATE - The Margate Beach Patrol had the leading South Jersey Chiefs Association competition team last year but failed to win its home event, the Margate Beach Patrol World War II Memorial Lifeguard Races.
Margate rowers Chuck Gowdy and Ashton Funk, and swimmer Pat Flynn fixed that situation well enough on Friday at Decatur Avenue Beach.
Funk and Gowdy took the doubles row, and Margate cruised to the team title at the 68th annual event with 13 points. Flynn and Gowdy each added four points by getting second in the swim and singles row, respectively.
Scoring was 5-4-3-2-1 for the first five places.
Funk and Gowdy topped the field in the doubles row by at least four boat-lengths in a tricky ocean. Flynn finished second to Brigantine's Shane McKenzie in the swim, and Gowdy returned to get second to Avalon's Erich Wolf in the singles row.
"It's great to have a swimmer who can score points because we haven't had that most of the last few years," Margate Beach Patrol chief Rich Kugel said. "I felt pretty comfortable after the swim. I know that Chuck and Ashton are always going to get points."
Funk and Gowdy got a great start and never let up, winning in 14 minutes, 45 seconds. Ventnor's Matt Given and David Funk, who upset the Margate crew last week at the Dutch Hoffman Memorials in Wildwood, were second in 15:10. Atlantic City's Jim Smith and Vince Granese caught a good wave at the end and took third in 15:24.
"Getting second in Wildwood last week was good for us," Ashton Funk, 31, said. "It's good to win the individual race, but the team title is more important. Pat and Chuck both did a great job in the other races. This is a real confidence booster for next week."
The South Jersey Lifeguard Championships will be held at the same place, the Decatur Avenue beach in Margate, at 6:30 p.m. next Friday.
In the singles row, Gowdy was at the northern end of the beach and couldn't catch Wolf, who won the quarter-mile row in 4:47. But everyone know Gowdy's finish gave the crown to Margate.
"You always think about winning. You never go out there to get second or third," Gowdy, 30, said. "We always want to do well on our home course in front of the hometown. We're definitely happy to win. It gives us confidence for next week. We're lining ourselves up for a heavyweight battle."
Wolf had a slight edge, since he didn't row in the doubles race.
"My brother (Matt Wolf) and Jake Enright beat Craig Whitehead and I in our City doubles race this week, so they got to row instead of us," Wolf, 27, said. "When you row (singles) against guys like Chuck Gowdy, David Funk or Matt Given, there's no margin for error. I don't know if it was a perfect race, but it's the closest I've had to one in a long time."
McKenzie, a 19-year-old Brigantine rookie, led the field on the end of the swim and rode a wave toward the line. He got up first and ran to the line for a win in 14:50. Flynn stood up just after McKenzie finished and took second in 14:29. Upper Township's 16-year-old Kevin Gill was third in 14:41.
"The race today was longer than any of the others this year," said McKenzie, a swimmer at Notre Dame University. "That's to my advantage because I'm a distance freestyler."
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