DEL MAR— More than 700 people descended on Dog Beach early July 7 for the Vigilucci’s Beach Bocce World Championship XXXII, an event that combines fun, philanthropy and unfathomable fashion to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad and Del Mar Lifeguard Association.Beginning at 8 a.m., 364 two-person teams competed in 860 games in four categories.
Matt Brown from Brentwood and Laguna Niguel resident Bryan Janovick placed first in the men’s open. David Ebright from Carlsbad and Jeff Wilson of Solana Beach took second.
First place in men’s intermediate went to Encinitas residents Corey Scott and Brandon Killion. Carlsbad’s Bill Cavanaugh and Mike Peckham from Point Loma came in second.
In the women’s open Cardiff residents Patty Peters and Jill Lamb earned first-place honors, with fellow Encinitans Trudy Callaway and Karen Vold placing second.
San Diego’s Adam Kasarda and Melissa Johnson won top honors in the mixed division, with San Marcos residents Kara and Matt Vedenoff coming in second.
For the first time this year, event coordinators held a walk-in registration at Robbie’s Roadhouse, one of several area restaurants owned by title sponsor Roberto Vigilucci.
“We expected about 40 or 50 people,” said Pat Maldi, marketing director for the Boys & Girls Clubs. “About 150 people showed up. We sold out in two hours.
“This has really turned into an event that’s loved by everybody,” she said. “The community really embraces it. People come back every year. They feel like family.”
Last year the event raised a little more than $77,000. Maldi said she hopes to exceed that amount with help from a silent auction that featured Chargers tickets, golf packages, jewelry and autographed memorabilia, including a guitar signed by members of the local band Switchfoot.
When the tournament began 32 years ago, 54 teams competed to raise about $500 for the Del Mar Lifeguard Association.
Lifeguards still receive a portion of the proceeds, but the major beneficiary became the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito for the first 25 years and the Carlsbad chapter for the past seven.
Carl Bettis, John Manson, Pete Peters, Del Pifer, John Leslie and Bob O’Keefe started the event to pass time on the beach.
“We used to go down to the beach all the time in Del Mar,” Peters said. “There was a group of guys who came down every year before the track opened and they’d be playing this game called bocce ball. We kind of got intrigued with it.”
“So we started playing bocce ball with these guys because it was a fun, competitive thing to do on the beach, which can get really boring sometimes,” Pifer said.
When the tournament started, the founders wanted to include the guys who introduced them to the game. Because they were primarily in town for the races, the event was always held the weekend before opening day at the Del Mar Racetrack.
This year it took place one week early because someone had booked the beach for a July 14 wedding, Maldi said.