Pro says Wildwood Crest sand has true grit

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Photo by Christie Rotondo/ Matt Long works on the details of the giant sand castle he built on Heather Road Beach. Photo by Christie Rotondo/ Matt Long works on the details of the giant sand castle he built on Heather Road Beach. Matt Long to oversee amateur sand sculpting contest 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

WILDWOOD CREST – Matt Long knows sand. He has built sand sculptures around the world, from the beaches of Thailand to the middle of Times Square.

On Friday, he was building an 8-foot sandcastle on the Wildwood Crest beach, which he says has the best sand for sculpting.

“This is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of beaches,” he said as he smoothed out the towers of his castle. “And it’s got the best sand for sculpting.”

Wildwood Crest sand is fine, he said, and its natural grain structure is quartz crystal, “locks up,” or binds easily.

That is one of the reasons he and the borough have organized Wildwood Crest’s first amateur sand sculpting competition, set to be held on the Heather Road beach Saturday.

“I’ve always wanted to have a sand sculpting competition here,” said Long, who lives on Staten Island.

He said he has organized similar competitions in Cape May, but its beaches eroded and had to undergo replenishment. The sand dredged to fill beaches isn’t as good for building, according to Long.

The amateur sand sculpting competition is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 29. Participants in the competition will be separated into seven divisions, based on age and how many people are building one sculpture.

Public works was already preparing piles of sand for competitors to work with Friday morning, although Long said he was unsure how many people would come out and compete.

Larry Lohman, who spends his summers in Wildwood Crest and was watching Long build his sandcastle Friday, said he would be competing Saturday.

“Four years ago I got started sand sculpting,” said Lohman, who added that he has traveled to Belmar to compete in amateur sand sculpting competitions.

When I saw the ad in the paper that there was going to be a competition in Wildwood Crest, I was so excited,” he said.

Sand sculptors use a variety of tools, according to Long, who said he prefers masonry tools, an offset pastry knife and lots of water. He founded the sand sculpting tool company Can You Dig It, which is sponsoring the competition in the Crest.

Long said he began sand sculpting on the beaches of Cape May because he vacations there with his family.

“I can’t sit still for very long, so it became something I would do with my kids,” he said. That kicked off a career in sand sculpting, which he has been doing professionally since 2002.

Long has competed around the world with the Travel Channel TV show “Sand Masters” and took third place at Atlantic City’s world championship sand sculpting competition last weekend.

“People say you need a lot of patience to be a good sand sculptor,” Long said. “I say no – you just have to have a pathological case of OCD.”

Christie Rotondo can be emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you comment on this story below. 

Photo by Christie Rotondo/Long and Andy Kirkpatrick were building an eight-foot sand castle on Heather Road beach before Saturday's amateur competition. Photo by Christie Rotondo/Long and Andy Kirkpatrick were building an eight-foot sand castle on Heather Road beach before Saturday's amateur competition.


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