By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD — Darrick Kobierowski and Terry McGovern had to win the Bud Tarbotton Memorial Around The Island Row a different way Wednesday morning.
In the past, the crew had often won by never relinquishing an established early lead. But this time, the two former longtime area lifeguards who each served on multiple beach patrols during their careers won the approximately 20-mile race for the fourth time in five years in comeback fashion.
Trailing for much of the race in the back bay, Kobierowski and McGovern were behind by as much as about 20 seconds to Cape May’s Jon Knies and Rob Moran but made up ground just before the Middle Thorofare Bridge before taking the lead for good in Cold Spring Inlet.
By the time the boats made the turn north into the ocean around the inlet’s rockpile, Kobierowski and McGovern were comfortably ahead and well on their way to victory.
Kobierowski and McGovern, who were last patrolmates in Wildwood two summers ago, posted a winning time of 2 hours, 46 minutes, 15 seconds.
Kobierowski and McGovern have now won the Around The Island Row a combined seven times. In addition to their victories together in 2014, 2015, 2016 and this year, McGovern also won as a Wildwood Crest lifeguard with Brendan Cunningham in 2011 and 2012 and Kobierowski was victorious as a Stone Harbor lifeguard with Tom Lake in 2001.
Kobierowski is a full-time firefighter in Wildwood, while McGovern is a longtime elementary school teacher.
Knies and Moran pushed the winners for more than half the race. Knies, who enjoyed a solid summer in team lifeguard competitions for Cape May this summer, and Moran, who won the Cape May SuperAthalon for the second time in early July, led for most of the trek through the bay until the competitors moved into Cold Spring Inlet. They finished second in 2:47:47.
Margate’s Carl Smallwood and Longport’s B.J. Fox teamed for a third-place finish in 2:48:36. Wildwood’s Brandon Joyce and Steve McGuinn, the 2017 winner’s of the race, were fourth in 2:50:19 and Ocean City’s Sean McCann and Ventnor’s Brett Hanson rowed to fifth place in 2:53:01.
The 2018 Bud Tarbotton Around The Island Row included one of the smallest fields in the 43 years of the race. Just 17 boats competed.