LONGPORT - Winning by a rout at the Captain Michael D. McGrath Longport Memorial Lifeguard Races isn't easy, but the Margate Beach Patrol accomplished the feat Saturday.
The Margate doubles crew of Ashton Funk and Chuck Gowdy set the tone for the evening by winning by at least 40 yards.
Margate singles rower Chris Graves had a collision near the end of the race with Ventnor's David Funk, but Graves recovered to win.
In the swim, Margate's Patrick Flynn was second behind winner Shane McKenzie of Brigantine.
Margate scored 91 points to win in a breeze. Brigantine was second with 60 points and Atlantic City took third with 56.
The Longport Memorials has a point system from other South Jersey Chiefs Association events.
"It was a great way to start the season," Margate Beach Patrol Lt. Chuck LaBarre said. "Not to take anything away from anyone, but I think our in-city rowing races are as as tough as our out-of-city races. The competition is tough in Margate. I think our team is setting a really high standard for the other beach patrols, but (the results of other races) still remains to be seen."
Ashton Funk and Gowdy far outdistanced the field, and though they didn't need any extra help, they caught three waves on the way in.
"It's good to get a win in the first race," said Funk, 31. "What we like to do is get a nice strong start, settle and get out to a lead, and control the race."
McKenzie, 19, is a Brigantine rookie lifeguard and swimmer at Notre Dame University. He's from Newtown, Pa., but has summered in Brigantine since childhood. He got up first in the surf and ran to the finish line on the beach to win by 20 yards over Flynn.
McKenzie will be a rising sophomore at Notre Dame.
"I've competed in the USA Open Water Nationals in the 5K and the 10K, but this is my first South Jersey lifeguard race," McKenzie said. "I always wanted to be on the beach patrol. In high school I always trained with my club (swimming) team in the summer. But in college my summers are free."
David Funk had a slight lead near the end of the singles row, but turned sideways on a wave after nearly turning the boat over. Graves, a Margate Beach Patrol lieutenant, also turned sideways and they collided. Both recovered and were on the same wave coming to the shore, but Funk lost control again and Graves got to the finish line first by seven seconds.
Atlantic City's Vince Granese managed to get second place and Funk was third.
"That's ocean racing," Graves, 31, said. "Dave had the lead and my bow hit his stern. Everybody was close and I hit him. It spun him around. I had bad luck with the swells on the way out, but good luck coming in.
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