Crowds flood California beaches to take in complex, beautiful sand sculptures in national contest

SAN DIEGO - Crowds of people braved the heat and packed the Embarcadero to catch a glimpse of some of the greatest sand sculptures in the world.

It takes more than just a vision to put artwork together:  the concept, the design and then creating it out of sand.

This year's U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge features more than a dozen sculptures created by master artists from all over the world.

Helena Bangert is from Holland. She came to win the title with a yoga piece, which she says was inspired by the buildings downtown.

"I picked up the buildings, the water and the crisp lines of San Diego, so I combined that," she said.

Beginner Tetsuya Tanaka remembers attending the competition with his dad when it was held in Imperial Beach in its early beginning in the 1980s. Because of lack of funding, it was moved to its new home, the Embarcadero.

The sand sculptures draw crowds of people. Last year, they had 30,000 people come by. This year, they are expecting 40,000 people.

Organizer Gordon Summer said, "These things are as good as you'll find anywhere in the world in marble or bronze, but they are in sand."

Pamela Burns came with her children. She says this is her way of exposing them to art and culture.    

"I'd like to see them get inspired, to be creative … whether it's building sand castles, or anything else creative," she said.

Some of the experts also taught children lessons in sand castle building as part of the event.

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