The fourth time was a charm for Jonathan â€˜Jobiâ€™ Bouchard, of Montreal, who won the Revere Beach National Sandsculpting Festival for the fourth year in a row.
The competition was tough, and five new sculptors were added to the individual field, but despite the added competition and the strong desire by all the professional sandsculptors to knock Jobi off his pedestal â€“ none did.
Coming in with an octopus-style piece called â€˜Let Me Spread Ink,â€™ Jobiâ€™s unique style with numerous cut-throughs, a hollowed out body, precise cuts and smooth lines bested the competition.
As always, the sculptors choose the winners by judging each otherâ€™s work, but not their own, using the Sanding Ovations Report Card System. They were judged in six categories: Overall impact/Wow factor, Quality of Carving, Usage of Sand, Degree of Difficulty, Originality and Artistic Impression.
In addition to taking the $5,000 first prize, Jobi also won the Sculptorâ€™s Choice Award.
However, he was stripped of one title, that being the Peopleâ€™s Choice Award. The Peopleâ€™s Choice Award is decided by participants at the Festival who had a chance to vote on Saturday afternoon for their favorite piece.
This year, the Peopleâ€™s Choice Award went to first-time participant Amazinâ€™ Walter McDonald of South Padre Island, TX.
McDonald, 71, drew tons of spectators to his creation â€˜Step Up,â€™ a gigantic castle with many cut outs and tons of detail. However, it didnâ€™t hurt that McDonald panned to the crowd and had a good deal of fun with those who came to watch him carefully carve.
Second place ($4,000) this year went to Dan Belcher of St. Louis, who has been a mainstay in the competition for several years now, and has always created memorable pieces.
Belcher has come to enjoy his time on Revere Beach, and this year it showed with his piece â€˜Breaking Out.â€™ Belcher, a former three-time national champion, detailed a man breaking out of the head of another man.
Third place ($3,000) went to crowd favorite Benjamin Probanza of Acapulco, Mexico for his piece â€˜Listening to Life and Death.â€™ That piece featured a head with a skull in the middle on one side, and a skull with a human head in the middle on the other side. Like all of his work, it was very much in the Mexican surrealist tradition, but with clear, simple lines.
Fourth place ($2,000) went to first-time Revere participant Edith van de Wetering of Holland, whose hollowed out cylindrical piece called â€˜My Own Quiet Placeâ€™ gained a lot of attention from observers as she dug and dug and dug some more in the sizzling heat.
Above all, each piece was noteworthy, with virtually none of the sculptures being very far below the rest.
The only tragedy in the competition was that of Dan Doubledayâ€™s creation, a giant, double-sided head that was taking shape expertly when it collapsed between Friday and Saturday. It would have clearly finished in the top echelon of the competition.
The sculptures will remain on the Beach throughout the next few weeks, and as tradition has it, will only go down when the weather/vandals begin to make them look ragged.