Imagination: These fantastic pieces of art may not last forever but are lots of fun for all ages. *Photo supplied
Imagination: These fantastic pieces of art may not last forever but are lots of fun for all ages. *Photo supplied
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FRIDAY, AUGUST 25: It may seem like a pastime for children, but building sandcastles is fun for all ages.

From tiny tots to seniors, this year’s Annual Bermuda Sand Sculpture Competition will inspire creativity on the shores of Horseshoe Bay.

The contest — now in its 16th year — challenges teams to create a scene, theme or creatures out of a pile of sand, using shovels, spoons and spatulas.

In the past, lions, gorillas, mermaids, dragons and even Santa Claus have emerged from the pink sand beach, to the delight of tourists and locals.

Team Sandtastic, professional sculpters from Florida in the US, have also wowed beachgoers with their huge sand murals of island life and attractions.

Pirates

Commissioned by the Department of Tourism, their themes in the past five years have included Cup Match, Bermuda’s 400th Anniversary, pirates, Poseidon and the island’s marine life.

But due to the economic climate and Government cutbacks, the team will be absent this year.

Organizer Nicky Gurret, an architect, said she fears this year’s contest may also be the last.

“Support from the sponsors has dropped,” said Ms Gurret.

“If you haven’t ever entered, this is the year, as it may be the last year.

“It would be great if we could achieve 75 entries this year. The contest is free to enter and is such a wonderful family event.

“It is also a great way for Bermuda residents and tourists to interact on one of our most beautiful beaches.”

The Bermuda Sand Sculpture Competition was initiated 16 years ago by the Institute of Bermuda Architects (IBA).

The event began with 12 entries, which over the years have increased to more than 50.

Ten years ago the Department of Tourism took over sponsorship. Ms Gurret stayed on as the volunteer director but after 16 years now wants to step down.

“I would like to find someone to take over as director but unfortunately have not had anyone volunteer yet,” she said.

“There is no pay, just fun and a little hard work.

“It is has been a labour of love as I enjoy building sand sculptures myself and especially enjoy watching others build them.”

The contest has only been postponed once due to the weather, to the next day.

Ms Gurret said: “I consider the competition to be a homage to the beach and the end of summer. We get lots of people coming to watch and it’s a fabulous event for everyone.

 “It is both a pure art and performance art. I have entered it every year except for two years.”

She and her family competed in the US Open Sandcastle Competition in California once, coming fourth.

Ms Gurret also helped Bermuda win a silver medal at this year’s Royal Chelsea Flower Show in London, UK, with her ‘Bermuda Honeymoon Garden’ created with the Departments of Parks and Tourism.

This year the Bermuda Sand Sculpture Competition will not have an ‘International’ professional category but there is a class for seniors. The multi-generational appeal of the simple pleasures of sand sculpting is apparent in the seven categories — each of which has prizes.

The categories are: Families; Children aged 12 and under; Teenagers aged 13-19; Seniors over-55; Tourist; Company/organization; and Open — for adults.

Prizes

Each team is allotted a building area of 12ft x 12 ft and a mound of sand, and has from 10am to 4pm to create its masterpiece.

This year’s prizes include iPods and complimentary PGA Grand Slam of Golf tickets.There are also cash prizes for the overall Best Sand Sculptures — $1,000 for first place, $500 for second and $250 for third.

Ms Gurret said: “Anyone has a chance to win, and plus they get bragging rights.”

She says the trick is in the preparation —  dampening the sand all the way through with water, to reach the right ‘sticky’ consistency. Recommended tools are a bucket and shovel, flat spatulas, spoons and a rake.

Other items and props depend on the design, but the most important tool is your hands.

“One can make a perfectly good sand sculpture with hands only,” she said.

“Sand sculptures can take from one hour to seven hours to build, depending on how elaborate one wants to get.

“My favourites in the past have been a castle with a large arched bridge and a mermaid.”