Sand Sculpting World Cup to announce winners Friday

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ATLANTIC CITY – The international sand sculpting competition is back on the beaches of Atlantic City.

The Do AC Sand Sculpting World Cup hit the Atlantic City beach this summer for its second annual competition, open everyday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through June 27, on the beach between Steel Pier and Pennsylvania Avenue. Admission is free and competition information is on display.


Twenty sand sculptors from around the world traveled to Atlantic City to compete in this unique competition, run by the Atlantic City Alliance and professional sand sculptor John Gowdy.

Awards will be presented 6 p.m. Friday, June 27.

Gowdy, a former firefighter from Atlantic City, started sand sculpting about 30 years ago at the beach with his family. The family had so much fun sculpting together that they decided to compete in local competitions.

“We formed a team called ‘The Rowdy Gowdys,’” Gowdy said. “As time went on, I was invited to competitions and I started to participate in competitions all over the world.”

Years later, Gowdy realized that a sand sculpting competition would be a great family event for Atlantic City to host.

“I knew that an event like this would be able to highlight the natural beauty of Atlantic City,” Gowdy said. “There’s more to this city than the casinos. There’s a lot more for people to enjoy.”

Bringing his idea to the attention of the Atlantic City Alliance, Gowdy brought his passion home, and an international competition was held on the beaches of hometown Atlantic City.

Gowdy recruited all 20 competitors from different parts of the world to compete in the DO AC Sand Sculpting World Cup.

“I looked for talent, of course, but I was also looking for personable competitors,” Gowdy said. “These people were going to be in the public eye, so I looked for people who were funny, friendly and outgoing.”

Sculptors in this year’s competition are from nine countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Singapore, France, Canada, Japan, India, Australia and Italy. The competitors were given a total of four days to complete their sculptures.

“The timing is taken very seriously,” said Melanie Sole of the Atlantic City Alliance. “They work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, and they break for lunch at the same time. It’s very fair.”

The competition is set up in two parts. The singles competition lasts for four days, followed by a day off from sculpting. The doubles competition, in which sculptors work together to create a sculpture, followed.

At the end of the competition $75,000 in prizes will be awarded. First prize in the singles round is $4,000, and in the doubles round, $7,000 is on the line for first prize.

Sculptors are judged on five aspects, each worth 20 percent of their overall score. Judges score for first impression, originality, art, difficulty and execution.

The sand used in the competition is from Tuckahoe. It has more silt than the sand on the Atlantic City beaches, which helps the sand to stick together. More than 500 tons is being used from last year’s competition.

Matthew Deibert, also of the Atlantic City Fire Department, is a sculptor in this year’s competition.

“I worked with John Gowdy on the ACFD back in 1999, and that’s how I discovered sand sculpting,” Deibert said. “I traveled to a few competitions with him, but I’m still working with the ACFD, so I don’t travel that often.”

Father of six, Deibert’s oldest son, Ian, who is part of the competition staff, has taken an interest in sculpting.

The award ceremony, at which all of the final sculptures will be on display, is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 27.

Until then, the clock is ticking and the sculptors will be hard at work.

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