MARGATE - Ventnor oarsman David Funk scored two victories at once in the crucial moments of the 67th Margate Beach Patrol World War II Memorial Lifeguard Races at the Decatur Avenue beach on Friday.
Funk used powerful short strokes and rode some convenient waves to win the 1,000-foot singles row, the last of the three races. A few yards away, Chuck Gowdy of Margate was one second behind Funk in second place.
Funk had begun the night with a second-place finish with Mike Tripician in the doubles row. With the scoring being 5-4-3-2-1 for the first five places, Funk's win in the singles also gave Ventnor the team championship with nine points.
It was Funk's first victory in a row against other patrols this year, and Ventnor's first team title this summer.
"The team championship is always our goal," said Funk, 34, a Linwood resident. "We want to represent our city well, first and foremost. It feels great to bring the title back to Ventnor."
Ventnor was the 2010 champion, but Margate won last year.
Avalon was second in team scoring with seven points. Erich Wolf and Craig Whitehead of Avalon won the doubles in 15 minutes, 55 seconds. Wolf returned to get fourth in the singles. Three teams had five points, but Margate earned third place with the better finish in the doubles row, which is the South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association tiebreaker.
Funk was third in the Atlantic City Lifeguard Classic singles row on July 22 and failed to get top-five at the Dutch Hoffman Memorials on July 27.
"I'm excited to get a win under my belt," Funk said. "I had the advantage of coming in on a wave. I think Chuck had mostly flat water. I came off the swell and the next one was standing up. I had to do a couple right oars. You work with the swell and what's getting thrown at you."
Tripician, who was the bow in the boat with Funk for the doubles row, held 1-year-old son Brogan following the awards ceremony.
"It was not so much a power-row tonight, but you had to work together with the (rough) conditions," Tripician said. "I was following Dave and matching up with him the best I can, so we could apply the pressure together."
Wolf and Whitehead also caught some good waves near the end as the current pulled all the boats in a northern direction towards Atlantic City. It was the first Margate Memorials win for Whitehead since he won in 1994 with original rowing partner Mike Cras.
"It's been a long time," said Whitehead, 41, of Collingswood. "It feels great to win. In an ocean like this, you hope for a good start, and we got it. It was a tough battle in that chop (on the way out). The boat kind of stops when you hit a big wave. Coming in, it was a matter of tying to stay on the little swells. We had a great pull-in and had some little bumps to help us."
North Wildwood's Sean Regan won the half-mile swim in 14:55. The rookie lifeguard was also pulled northward by the current, but he got up first in the surf and did a good run to the finish line to win by 12 seconds. Stone Harbor's Devin McCall was second in 15:07.
"I caught a wave that took me away from the line, but I felt myself going forward," said Regan, a 17-year-old rising senior at La Salle High School. "The wave helped me a lot. I was looking at Lucy the Elephant" as a guiding landmark on the way back to shore."
Contact Guy Gargan: