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Sandcastle of epic proportions

Local sculptors John McKinnon and Denis Kleine haul their skills to Germany to take part in record breaking sandcastle that winds down Baltic Sea beach for 27.5 kilometres
Denis Kleine (left) and John McKinnon’s work is well known in the Nelson area — McKinnon for his iconic sandstone sculptures in locations like Lakeside and Gyro parks and Kleine for his osprey sculpture in the bay between the mall and the playing fields. Last month the pair put their skills to the test helping build the world’s longest sandcastle.

A couple of local sculptors put their skills to work recently to break a 20-year-old record for the world’s longest sandcastle.

John McKinnon and Denis Kleine, along with 22 other sculptors from around the world, traveled in June to the German island of Rugen on the Baltic Sea.

“There were people from Russia, Holland, Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary,” said McKinnon.

The final measurement for the sandcastle was 27.5 km.

McKinnon said as he looked down the nine kilometre long beach he could see sandcastles disappearing into the distance.

“We built 22 sandcastles and each was about 500 metres apart,” he said.

“We joined the sandcastles together with walls. A machine came in and built some trenches and on the last day about 10,000 volunteers showed up and decorated and cleaned the walls up.”

Kleine and McKinnon built two castles. One was a more traditional castle, which included a dragon. The second was made up of cubes; McKinnon called it a “picastle.”

A rain storm hit the beach during the competition and McKinnon said some sculptors ran into problems, but even though their traditional castle was slightly damaged, it held up to the rain.

To build the castles the sand was packed into forms.

“The forms were laid out and the sand was brought in and packed into the forms. They were about 10 feet high,” said McKinnon. “And then we stripped the forms off and carved the castles.”

McKinnon and Kleine used a variety of trowels and shovels to carve the castles.

He said sand had to be brought in because beach sand typically doesn’t lend itself to building tall sand sculptures.

“The beach sand is quite round and it doesn’t pack very well,” he said. “They brought in sand that would pack a little better with a little bit of clay in it.”

A German TV station, Cabel eins, sponsored the project and created a two-hour program about it.

The previous Guinness World Record for the longest sandcastle was built in California. It measured 26.5 km.

McKinnon became involved with sand sculpture several years ago, and will be going to Parksville on Vancouver Island for their annual sandcastle festival on July 16.