Carl Jara, a 38-year-old sculptor from Cleveland, has been competing at the championship level since 1998. "When I first got there, a lot of it was dolphins and castles and teddy bears," he says. Inspired by European sculptors who "would rather die than make a mermaid," Carl decided early on that he wanted to test the limits. Now, Carl says, his colleagues are catching up and passing him.
"Most of these guys I've known for a decade or more," he explains. "I've seen them go from what sand sculpture had been for 30 years to pushing the limits of what we do—conceptually and visually and technically. We are capable of amazing, amazing things—and now we're starting to attract new people who are pushing the field farther."