By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD – The drive for five is complete for Kobie and Terry.
Wildwood Crest lifeguards Darrick Kobierowski and Terry McGovern led nearly from start to finish in winning the Bud Tarbotton Memorial Around The Island Row lifeguard race hosted by the North Wildwood Beach Patrol Tuesday morning.
The victory marks the fifth in seven years for Kobierowski and McGovern, who also won from 2014 through 2016 and in 2018. The pair led much of last year’s race before losing their chance at a first-place finish after taking on water due to a popped boat plug only a few miles from the end of the race.
The Around The Island Row is an approximately 17- to 18-mile doubles row that begins in Hereford Inlet and travels through the bay behind the Wildwoods before moving through Cold Spring Inlet and finishing in the ocean at North Wildwood’s 15th Avenue beach.
Kobierowski, a City of Wildwood firefighter and year-round resident of Wildwood Crest, and McGovern, a schoolteacher and Haddonfield resident, posted a time of 2 hours, 36 minutes, 55 seconds. Longport’s Sean Duffey and Mike McGrath were second in 2:39:04 and Longport/Margate alums Carl Smallwood and B.J. Fox placed third in 2:39:55.
A Ventnor/Atlantic City boat of Kyle Deroo and Brett Hanson was fourth in 2:40:55 and Ventnor alums Kevin Prendergast and Tom Sher finished fifth in 2:42:55.
The win was the seventh in the South Jersey lifeguard racing career of McGovern, who also earned first place in 2011 and 2012 as a Wildwood lifeguard with Brendan Cunningham. And it was the sixth for Kobierowski, who earned top honors in 2001 as a Stone Harbor lifeguard with Tom Lake.
A total of 22 boats finished the event, including one all-female crew of Margate’s Kristine Auble and Amanda Auble. They placed 18th in 3:04:55.
Kobierowski and McGovern, both 46, are now one victory shy of the race record as a crew. Wildwood Crest’s Max Bilkins and Bick Murphy won six Around The Island Row races together in 1985, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2005.
The Around The Island Row was the only major lifeguard event held this summer, the rest canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic as race organizers were leery of large crowds forming on race host patrols’ beaches. But the nature of the Around The Island Row – with its early-morning start, negligible close interaction among competitors and lack of one large gathering place for spectators – allowed the North Wildwood Beach Patrol to proceed with the event.