Randy Angel

Zuma overtakes Manhattan to win Bud Stevenson Intracrew Medley

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Gage Stroman (front) and Mel Solberg power through a wave next to the Hermosa Beach Pier during the Bud Stevenson Intracrew Medley event Friday evening. Photo by Ray Vidal

by Randy Angel

This year’s Bud Stevenson Intracrew Medley saw a new winning team emerge when the lifeguards from Zuma Beach overtook Manhattan Beach’s “A” team to claim the title.

Manhattan Beach has finished in the top three for five consecutive years with championships coming in 2014 and 2015.

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Venice placed third while 2017 champion Hermosa Beach finished fourth. Following were the  Redondo/Torrance/Cabrillo, Santa Monica, Dockweiler, Manhattan “B” and Will Rogers teams.

Paddler Tom Seth races to the finish line. Photo by Ray Vidal

Held under the lights after lifeguards finish their daily workloads, the event consists of two runners, four swimmers, four paddlers, one surf ski paddler, and four two-person dorys.

Prior to the start of the Bud Stevenson Intracrew relay, the Los Angeles County Lifeguards competed in the 6-lifeguard run relay, 4-lifeguard shallow water sprint relay, and the 6-lifeguard rescue board relay events.

“Although we are highly competitive, we were pleasantly surprised when Zuma won,” Manhattan Beach “A” team member Brian Murphy said. “They had to make a two-hour drive after working all day. But there was a stint in time when Zuma won consecutive 10 titles.”

Veteran lifeguard Mel Solberg narrowly missed making the Manhattan “A” team so he rowed for the Dockweiler team.

“It was fun because of all the new guys that ended up there,” Solberg said. “There usually is little to no surf but we had a northwest swell this year, which no one was prepared for. It made it  interesting.

“Rowing for the LA County Southern “B” team during the Taplin Bell competition was fun, even if we did finish in 5th place. Jeff Lombardo and I rowed together but the highlight was being on the same team with my daughter, Jenna. I think it was the first father-daughter combination on a team.”

Jenna felt the same way.

Chris Linkletter, center, was honored for her contributions as a woman in surf racing. Females competed in the inaugural Chris Linkletter women’s surf racing relay Saturday evening. Photo by Ray Vidal

“To be on the same team and feel the energy from my dad was fantastic,” Jenna said. “The Surf Festival is my favorite event of the year. It’s better than Christmas.”

Murphy, 35, was also on the Taplin Bell winning team. He admits that the victory means more as he gets older. He was the fourth and final paddler named to the “A” team.

“When I was younger it didn’t mean as much,” Murphy said. “I really cherish this win. Plus, my brother Mike transferred so he was on our Taplin team this year.”

Kelsey Cummings, of El Segundo, continued her busy schedule at the Surf Festival, competing in lifeguard competitions before winning the Pier-to-Pier Swim for the third time in four years. She placed second in the swim in 2016.  

“The highlight of the weekend for me was racing in the first ever Chris Linkletter women’s surf racing relay contributions as a woman in surf racing,” Cummings said. “I had a blast racing with women from across the county and other agencies. It was also a special event that allowed us to honor Chief Linkletter’s contributions as a woman in surf racing. This week we’re heading to Virginia Beach for nationals and we have a large team going. I’m looking forward to reclaiming our title and racing with all of my teammates.”

Chris Linkletter will represent the LA County team at the USLA National Championships this weekend at Virginia Beach, VA. Photo by Ray Vidal

Cummings will join many of the top lifeguards who be competing this weekend in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the United States Lifeguard (USLA) National Championships.

With many lifeguards having to miss last year’s competition, this year’s squad is back to full strength. The LA County team won back-to-back titles in 2015-16 and placed second in 2017 and 2014.

“Due to work and other commitments, last year’s team was smaller than usual,” Mel Solberg said. “This year we have a solid team and I’m very optimistic about our chances. However, rain, thunder and lightning are predicted the the entire week.”

Jenna will join her dad in competition at the USLA Nationals and this year, her mother will be attending the event to root her family on.

“We have an incredible girls team this year so we should do very well,” Jenna said.

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