Race Against the Tide – Sand sculpturing is a quite beautiful, yet peculiar art. You use one type of material that you can only get from a single type of location, which is sand from the many beaches and shorelines across the globe. And with that sand, the artists in question use it to mold creations that are intricate in design and detail, involve a lot of talent and patience, and could take up to a week from concept to finished product.
But what if you utilize those talents and material on a beach somewhere in New Brunswick, and compete in a series of 10 sand sculpturing challenges in order to win the grand of $10,000? However, there is one major catch. Instead of a week to create the requested thematic sculpture challenge, you have only six hours to work on it, because that’s the amount of time when the tides of the Bay of Fundy – regarded as the highest tides in the world – hits the shore and takes away your creation out to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
That’s the idea behind “Race Against the Tide” (RATT), the new reality competition series that airs on CBC Television starting September 9 at 8 p.m. The 10-part series, hosted by veteran Canadian comic (and Newfoundland & Labrador native) Sean Majumder, pits 10 pairs of experienced sand sculpture artists from around the world – all of them award-winning world champions and title holders in their own right – in an intense, stressful series of sculpture challenges, and have that added edge to accelerate their talents into a six-hour window in order to beat the wrath of Fundy’s high tides.
And Quebec is well represented in the series. First, there’s the father and daughter team of Guy and Seveline Beauregard from Quebec City, plus Jonathan (“Jobi”) Bouchard from St. Calixte, a town an hour north of Montreal, who is teamed with St. Louis, Missouri native Dan Belcher, who has won a total of 14 sand sculpturing championships in three different categories.
“I originally started out doing ice sculptures in Quebec, and then in 2007, I met some sand sculpture artists who encouraged me to try my skills with sand. So I gave it a try and I liked the experience, especially when you’re working on the beach and the weather is good. It’s an amazing feeling,” said Bouchard during a recent phone interview.
Bouchard admits that although RATT was a great experience, especially when he got the chance to compete with some of the best sand sculpture artists in the world, the danger of the approaching tides of the Bay of Fundy while he and Dan were at work added an air of nerve-wracking intensity to the competition. “Doing Race Against the Tide was an intense challenge, because we had to manage our time effectively with the forces of nature,” he said. “But at times it was a little strange, because the teams wouldn’t know exactly when they could start working on their sculptures, and that’s when it started to get stressful for us, because the threat presented by the tides were always hanging over our heads.”
One of the most poignant parts of watching Race Against the Tide is at the end of each episode, when Fundy’s tides wash away the artistic efforts of each team to the bottom of the Atlantic. However, Bouchard is quite philosophical about that part of the competition, when he realized that sand sculptures don’t retain that sense of permanency like a marble sculpture or a painting.
“I never got to see that final part, when the tides destroy our sculptures,” he said. “It’s a very interesting aspect of the world of sand sculpturing, because it represents the fragility of our type of art. When you see it fall apart after all the work you put into it, I find it quite interesting in a rather poignant way, because that’s when you realize that it’s part of the game, so you just learn to just let go, accept it and go on to the next competition.”