At International Surf Festival, the sand ‘castles’ are upstaged by octopus, mermaid, shark and more
By Louis Casiano, contributing reporter
Brian Denny and his two sons couldn’t contain their shock Sunday.
The trio had just been announced as the group winner of the of the International Surf Festival’s sand castle design contest for their creation of a giant 10-tentacled octopus.
Along with 200 competitors, teams and individuals gathered near the Manhattan Beach Pier. around 7:30 a.m. for the 58th edition of the sand castle contest. It was all part of the annual 5-day International Surf Festival, which concluded on Sunday.
Contest participants were given just under two hours to build whatever their heart’s desire as spectators watched from the pier above trying to make out who was building what.
Denny, a Redondo Beach resident, often made sand castles while frequenting the beach as a kid, he said.
Sunday’s contest was the first for him and his sons Pierson, 11, and Lincoln, 9.
The family jumped for joy and could hardly contain themselves at the realization of beating out their fellow competitors.
“After the mermaid got fifth place, that mermaid had really great texture and detail and I thought ‘There’s no way ours is as good as that,’” Brian Denny said, adding that they came into the event with a plan.
The elder Denny moved the sand while Lincoln worked on the face, using seaweed for hair and sea shells for teeth, and Pierson created the tentacles. Aside from first place, the Denny’s were medals and a $50 gift to a local restaurant which they plan to use for dinner Sunday.
The family will defend their top finish next year, Brian Denny said.
The beach was packed early in the day as the Surf Fest Pier-to-Pier swim from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach and paddleboard championship got underway.
Beachgoers shared the sand with dozens of sand creations including sea lions perched on a rock, a shark eating a hand – a tribute to shark week – whales and, of course, sand castles.
“Imagination is the limit,” said David Ibarra, a supervisor with the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the agency which oversees the annual contest.
Mimi Woolley, 54, used the 2018 World Cup as inspiration for her first-place submission in the individual adult category of a giant foot kicking a soccer ball.
Next to it was a French flag and “Goal” spelled out with seaweed. The French word “ALLEZ!,” – meaning “go on” – was spelled out in sand at the bottom.
The Manhattan Beach resident said she grew up making sand art on the beach with her brother as a kid and has competed in the annual contest on and off for 50 years.
In past competitions, she’s made a beach bum holding a beer can, a turtle, an octopus and sharks.
“I’ll sometimes do something like a current event,” Woolley said as she stared at her work.
Friends Chris Charhut and Chris Head, both 24, spent three hours watching YouTube videos Saturday night and purchased the buckets they needed to build their castle. Passersby couldn’t help but liken the sculpture to Game of Thrones.
The pair work as aerospace engineers and used plastic straws to push away unwanted sand instead of their hands, which could ruin the design, and built a bridge that stands over a moat.
The plastic technique came from their YouTube late-night YouTube tutorial, Head said.
Inside the castle are two smaller structures, presumably homes, which was good enough earn them second place honors.
“We’re engineers so anything with straight edges and squared things, those are easy to do,” Charhut said.
Like the Denny’s, the pair also plan to enter the contest again next year.
“And we’ll probably spend more than three hours preparing the day before,” Charhut said.
After the awards ceremony, contest participants began leveling their scultures, which didn’t sit well with Pierson Denny, who decided to let his stand.
“I want as many people to see it as possible,” he said.
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- More information: www.surffestival.org/