The 12th annual South Bay Dozen helped kick off the official start of summer with a healthy competition between Los Angeles County, California state lifeguards and those willing to take them on in open competition. Around 90 competitors participated in the event, which was held at Torrance Beach last Saturday under perfect conditions.
There were a dozen different competitions and an overall men’s and women’s champion was crowned. James Bray of Carpenteria held off Hayden Hemmens, 20, of Costa Mesa in the men’s competition. In the women’s competition, Jenna Solberg of Torrance, who is a lifeguard in Manhattan Beach, won the title over Renae Jackson of Long Beach.
Bray accumulated the most points winning seven events. He won both dory boat races with Dick De Boer, was first in the waterman relay with Troy Kauffman. He added victories in the sprint paddleboard, surf ski relay, Taplin relay and board relay.
Hemmens won it for the first time last year. Kevin Fink of San Pedro was third. Hemmens won four events which included the surf race, ironman, run/board/run/board/run and run/swim/run.
"The South Bay Dozen is one of my favorite races of the year,” Bray said. “Yes, we all want to win and I feel very honored to take overall winner, but what really inspires me is the simplicity of hanging on the beach with friends and progressing our lifeguarding skills through friendly competition, with some of the best ocean athletes in the country.”
“It was a great day,” said De Boer, who is from Murrieta and is a state lifeguard at Lake Perris. “I’ve been required to work on Saturday’s so to get here, row and win both (dory) races is awesome.”
Bray said he would like to thank founder Michael Murphy of Redondo Beach and this year’s co-director of the event Tim Burdiak.
The South Bay Dozen also raises money for the Jimmy Miller Foundation and Bray wanted to thank all of the sponsors “with creating such a great environment and special day on the beach year-after-year."
Solberg is on the U.S. National Lifesaving Team. She won the run/board/run/board/run, sprint paddleboard and finished high in several other events.
“Jenna is a great competitor,” said Kelsey Cummings of El Segundo, who competed in the event for the first time. “She is really good at everything and she has been doing it for a bit. She is very talented and works hard.”
Cummings won the very first event she participated in, surf swim, and finished second to Solberg in the ironwoman. She competed in just two events and then had to leave.
“It was great to start off the surf racing season with a fun race to kind of just get out there and start competing,” Cummings said.
She was more than happy with her second place in the ironwoman as she was in first place at times.
“It was just good to see how I did against other people," she said.
Cummings is also on the U.S. National Lifesaving Team and won a silver medal at the World Lifesaving Championships in the Netherlands last year in the ocean swim.
U.S. Olympian Maggie Hogan of Huntington Beach also competed and won the ironwoman and surfski events.
There were a number of first-timers competing this year including Manhattan Beach’s Ryan Gates, who was on the winning surf ski relay with James Bray and Renae Jackson.
“We had a pretty good start,” Gates said. “I was able to catch a couple waves on the way in and pass two people.”
Gates has been hearing about the event for years and finally was able to compete.
“This is awesome. I’m coming back next year,” he said.
Another first-timer was Madison Feldman of Huntington Beach, who is a state lifeguard. She won both the women’s dory boat races with Renae Jackson.
“It was great,” Feldman said. “A lot of people competed in every event. You kept going, going, going all day.”
Winners of all 12 events were: 3-LAP DORY RACE #1-James Bray/Dick DeBoer, Renae Jackso/Madison Feldman; SURF RACE-Haden Hemmens, Kelsey Cumming; IRONMAN/IRONWOMAN-Hayden Hemmens, Maggie Hogan; WATERMAN/WATERWOMAN RELAY-Troy Kaufman/James Bray, Madison Feldman/Renae Jackson; RUN/BOARD/RUN/BOARD/RUN-Hayden Hemmens, Jenna Solberg; SURFSKI-Rich Sprout, Maggie Hogan; 3-LAP DORY RACE #2-James Bray/Dick DeBoer, Renae Jackson/Madison Feldman; SPRINT PADDLEBOARD-James Bray, Jenna Solberg; RUN/SWIM/RUN-Hayden Hemmens, Sierra Cox; SURF SKI RELAY-Ryan Gates, James Bray, Renae Jackson; TAPLAN RELAY-Troy Kauffman, Pierce Dietze, James Bray, Michell Eray; BOARD RELAY-Shannon Snell, Chris Dobrosielski, James Bray