Randy Angel

Surf Festival has a changing of the guard

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Members of the South team ended L.A. County Central’s six-year hold of the coveted Taplin Bell. Photo by Ray Vidal

Members of the South team ended L.A. County Central’s six-year hold of the coveted Taplin Bell. Photo by Ray Vidal

South Bay athletes triumphed at the 53rd annual International Surf Festival last week where new champions were crowned, many ending long reigns of their opponents.

The highlight of the Surf Festival was two evenings of lifeguard competition at the Hermosa Beach Pier and local teams did not disappoint the home crowd. On Friday, Manhattan Beach ended Venice’s seven-year run as champion of the Bud Stevenson Intracrew medley and the following night, L.A. County South snapped Central’s six-year winning streak.

L.A. County South team members celebrate their win in the Taplin Medley Relay with the traditional spraying of champagne. Photo by Ray Vidal

L.A. County South team members celebrate their win in the Taplin Medley Relay with the traditional spraying of champagne. Photo by Ray Vidal

South Bay lifeguards claim Taplin Bell

Chad Carvin called it a changing of the guard.

Carvin was instrumental in leading the L.A. County South ‘A’ team to victory Saturday night in the Judge Irving Taplin Medley Relay held in Hermosa Beach. Carvin was previously a member of the six-time, defending champion L.A. County Central team,

Teams from lifeguard services from throughout Southern California compete in this event each August. The winning team gets the honor of holding the “Taplin Bell” perpetual trophy until the following year’s race. The individual names of all 16 team members from the winning team are engraved on the perpetual trophy.

The relay began with four swimmers followed by four paddlers and four two-man dory teams.

Former Olympic swimmer Chad Carvin gave the L.A. County South team a lead over defending champion Central. Photo by Ray Vidal

Former Olympic swimmer Chad Carvin gave the L.A. County South team a lead over defending champion Central. Photo by Ray Vidal

The competition was close until Carvin, who won a silver medal in swimming at the 2000 Olympics, swam the final leg, giving the South squad a lead it would not relinquish.

“This was an awesome win,” Carvin said before being sprayed by celebratory champagne. “This was kind of a changing of the guard. We are in the middle of a promotional process and switched things up. I’m happy to be part of this team.”

Tyler Morgan, who had been on the losing end for seven years, was ecstatic with the win, which could begin the most exciting week of his life.

“That was an awesome win. I’m really stoked,” said Morgan. “My wife is due with our first child in two days so I’m glad she held out.”

Morgan and former El Segundo High School classmate and fellow Dockweiler lifeguard Kyle Martin, manned the first dory out.

“Having Chad Carvin on our team made the difference,” Morgan said. “Since he became a lifeguard about nine years ago, his section has won the Taplin Bell every year. We have a great team and I’d like to think we would have won anyway, but it would have been much closer and Chad gave us a gap we could hold onto.”

Morgan said he gained inspiration from swimmer Jeff Monroe, who cheered his teammates on after being force out of the competition because of an injury suffered during the regional championships.

Preceding Carvin on the L.A. County South team were swimmers Jon Diaz, Charlie Patch and Nick Macko. Paddlers included Shane Gallas, Hogan Inscore, Ryan Mathews and Max First. Morgan and Martin were followed by dory teams of Mike O’Donnell and Jeff Lombardo, Dave Cartlidge and Mike Gavola and Mel Solberg and Chris Murphy.

The win was the 16th for Solberg who broke a tie with L.A. County Central’s Tom Seth for the most Taplin Bell victories.

Prior to the Taplin Relay, the male and female Beach Flags competition was won by L.A. County’s Pat Jacobson and Jenna Solberg, respectively.

The evening began with lifeguards demonstrating the rescue of a person who jumped off the Hermosa Beach Pier.

The next generation of lifeguards displayed their skills in the Junior Lifeguard championships where each instructor selects an 18-person team consisting of 6 runners, 6 paddlers, and 6 swimmers.  The teams placed in age-appropriate division and race against each other in a relay format.

The A Taplin competition was won by Manhattan who outdistanced Venice and Hermosa.

Manhattan won the A Girls Taplin over Hermosa and Redondo and the Manhattan A team claimed the B Taplin defeating El Segundo A and Zuma A teams.

L.A. County South’s dorymen finished strong giving the team a long-awaited championship. Photo by Ray Vidal

L.A. County South’s dorymen finished strong giving the team a long-awaited championship. Photo by Ray Vidal

The C Taplin title went to Tim Kelly A who bested Hermosa A and Will Rogers A.

Manhattan Beach dethrones Venice for Bud Stevenson Intracrew title

The Manhattan Beach lifeguard team ended Venice’s seven-year reign capturing its first Bud Stevenson Intracrew Medley Relay championship since 2005 Friday night in Hermosa Beach.

Competing against teams from Cabrillo-Torrance-Redondo, Hermosa Beach, Dockweiler, Venice, Santa Monica, Will Rogers, Malibu, Zuma Beach and the Baywatch Rescue Boat Crews, Manhattan Beach posted its best finish since placing third in 2011.

Competition began with a two-person running relay on the beach followed by a four-person swimming leg.

Despite the loss of Chad Carvin – a 2000 Olympic swimming silver medalist who moved to the Hermosa Beach team – Venice held the lead after the swimming competition.

With strong performances by Brian Murphy and Shane Gallas in the first two legs of the paddleboarding, Manhattan Beach held a lead it would not relinquish.

Women make a last ditch attempt to win the Beach Flags competition. Photo by Ray Vidal

Women make a last ditch attempt to win the Beach Flags competition. Photo by Ray Vidal

Murphy was recently named to the United State’s 12-lifeguard team that will participate in the Life Saving World Championships to be held in France Sept. 16-21.

Renowned Redondo Beach waterman Danny Ching extended the lead in the surf-ski paddle event providing a comfortable margin when the four two-person dory competition began.

The husband-and-wife team of Will and Tracie Didinger rowed the first leg and Mel Solberg and Chris Murphy anchored the relay with a dominant finish ahead of second-place Zuma Beach and Venice.

Prior to the Bud Stevenson Intracrew Medley, Manhattan Beach swept competition in three events.

Shane Gallas started and Matt Fink finished the winning 6-lifeguard run relay before Greg Crum, Jeff Lombardo, Matt Alberti and Will Didinger won the 4-lifeguard shallow-water sprint relay.

Murphy pulled away on the final leg to give Manhattan Beach the win in the 6-lifeguard rescue board relay.