One of the five judges looks on as Jonathan Bouchard puts the finishing touches on ‘Believe’ in the final moments of the competition. (Emily Vance photo)

How to judge sand sculptures like a pro at the 2019 Parksville Beach Festival

World-class arbiter gives insight on how to choose a winner

The talented sculptors are done at the 2019 Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition, and almost all the results are in – except for two categories.

Still to be determined are the People’s Choice awards, which are tallied up at the end of the festival, on Aug. 18.

Anyone who visits the grounds will be invited to cast a ballot for their favourites in the solo sculpting and duo sculpting categories.

There’s plenty of talent on display at the Parksville Beach Festival, which can make it difficult to choose, especially if you’re not exactly an art critic.

READ MORE: Sand sculpture winners announced at Parksville Beach Festival

With that in mind, The NEWS sat down with Charlie Beaulieu, head judge at this year’s competition.

Beaulieu is also the executive director of the World Championships of Sand Sculpting. He’s been sculpting for 35 years, so he knows his stuff.

There are four main categories to professional sand sculpture judging.

They are ‘wow’ factor, artistic merit, overall design and technical difficulty.

“The main thing is the wow factor and the artistic merit. They’re really just kind of tied together. You go into a painting store, you’re automatically drawn to one thing or another. That’s what the wow factor is all about,” said Beaulieu.

Together, those first two categories make up 60 per cent of a competitor’s overall score.

Beaulieu says he looks at a sculpture from three different angles to get a complete picture.

“You’ll see something from a distance and just go ‘oh I gotta get closer to that. I want to see that up close.’ Then you kind of do the medium length, then you get up close and really analyze it,” said Beaulieu.

Another way of looking at it would be asking yourself which one you’d want to keep in your home.

“If you could take something and shrink it down and put it on your mantel, would that be the one? You know. And so that’s kind of a cool way to look at it. Something you’d want to hang onto and keep, and impress your friends with. Something really unique,” said Beaulieu.

In terms of technical difficulty, judges take into account things like verticality, mass, depth and height.

Looking at the winners of the solo and doubles categories, Icarus by Ilya Filimontsev and Believe by Jacinthe Trudel and Jonathan Bouchard, one can see that mix of creativity and technicality that the judges are looking for.

Both sculptures involve sculpting delicate layers of sand at great height. Both also incorporate what Cheryl Dill, president of the Parksville Beach Festival Society, says are called “cut-throughs.”

Essentially, these are cutouts in the sand where you can see through the sculpture. The thinner the sand in the area of the cut-through, the more challenging it becomes.

“It’s very challenging and delicate to do… any kind of tips, thin points,” said Dill. “It takes a lot of experience to accomplish something like that.”

RELATED: Carvers letting sawdust fly in annual Island competition

The Parksville Beach Festival is on until Aug. 18, and anyone interested in seeing the sculptures for themselves can access the grounds from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week.

Entry to the grounds is by a suggested donation of $4.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

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