Bringing the beach downtown, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge has moved more than 250 tons of sand to the Broadway Pier in San Diego.
Teams and individuals from San Diego, Washington, Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy will compete in the event’s Masters category this Labor Day weekend.
About a dozen teams or individuals, including Encinitas locals Yuliya Ladygina and James Shin, will also compete in another category.
In its first year, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge begins in the absence of Imperial Beach’s U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, canceled by local organizers in fall 2011.
First held in 1980, the event at its height drew an estimated 400,000 to Imperial Beach. Over time, it became the largest contest of its kind in the world.
“I’ve met a bunch of people from IB, and they love the contest, and they love playing in the sand,” said Kent Trollen, a professional sand sculptor who organizes and judges competitions.
“They’re just disappointed their event didn’t continue. In the meantime, we’ll get this event going. There’s room in this town for both.”
Shortly after the U.S. Open fell apart, while he was in Florida last November, Trollen said he was contacted by Greg LeBon of Archisand and Gordon Summer, who helped raise funds for the U.S. Open, to create the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge.
“We were trying to work with them to keep it going, but once we saw the budget for security and everything we thought ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,” Trollen said. “I don’t know how they did it.”
The last competition held in IB cost more than $200,000, .
Sheriff security , an amount Trollen said he has never paid after organizing more than 20 competitions.
Trollen said Sand Sculpting Challenge organizers tried but were unable to buy the name and website of the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.
“It’s a business thing,’’ he said. “We’re running a business here. Down there, it was an all-volunteer thing and just kind of a different approach.
“We fly people in from all over the world. It’s just a whole different ballgame.”
Though similarities exist, here are notable differences between the two:
- Unlike the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge spectators are charged admission.
- Teams will be paid by organizers to compete instead of paying to participate as was the custom in Imperial Beach.
- Instead of being held on the beach in IB, tons of sand will be imported to Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego.
- Instead of two days of competitions for kids and adults, sculpted sandcastles will be on-display for four days.
- Instead of more than 100 vendors lining Seacoast Drive, artists will showcase their sculptures at the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge.
- Instead of a day devoted to competing kids sandcastles, this weekend’s event will have an area where children can make their own creations.
Like the U.S. Open in IB, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge will donate part of its proceeds to charities that benefit children. A portion of the proceeds from thsi weekend's event will benefit the educational programs at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and the Young Audiences of San Diego /Arts for Learning.
For more information about the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge visit ussandsculpting.com.