According to Ted Sieberts The Art of Sandcastling, a 1990 book referred to as a bible by folks in the know, seawater is an ideal bonding agent. As seawater in a sculpture evaporates, salt crystals remain, forming a thin crust over the entire surface, he writes. Physicists who research such things have established that the ideal ratio is eight parts sand to one part water. All of which is handy knowledge for the largest sandcastle building event in Northern California, the Leap Sandcastle Classic, a competition that inspires architects, engineers, contractors, and elementary-school-age kids to create large sand sculptures. No shapeless little lumps here were talking 15-foot-long turtles, 10-foot-tall frogs, towering turrets, and even, one year, what looked like an entire Aztec city perched on the side of a craggy mountain. The teams prepare for weeks beforehand, and when the start whistle sounds, the sand flies and the buckets whirl. Surf band the Mermen provides a soundtrack to the madness. It may be too late to register for the official competition, but you can bring a bucket and build your own dream castle or just hang out and admire the sandy ingenuity.
Sat., Oct. 4, 10 a.m., 2008