Jonathan ‘Jobi’ Bouchard doesn’t enter many sand sculpting contests, but when the French Canadian does choose to compete, he usually wins.
While being relatively new to the world of sand sculpting, Jobi has made a huge splash in the oceans of the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival – winning it four times in a row – and he has taken that to other select competitions as well.
He has just come back from the Atlantic City competition, where he took first place in the doubles competition. He is also the defending champion at Virginia Beach and Treasure Island.
But quality does not mean quantity for Jobi. While seeing his unique, hollowed-out creations might have become a rite of passage for Revere Beach summers, his work is not that easy to see because he doesn’t enter too many competitions.
“I am really low key on the competitions,” he told the Journal this week. “I don’t do a lot of competitions, but when I do compete, I take it very seriously and push myself to do something special. Maybe that’s why I’ve had some success…I just got back from Atlantic City where I got a ‘perfect score.’ I got first prize and the sculptor’s prize. It’s always great to have the sculptor’s prize because somehow maybe the carvers hate me, but I know they like what I do.”
And when Jobi, returns to Revere Beach on July 14 for the Sand Sculpting Festival, there will be – no doubt – a little competitive angst for the four-time winner.
In fact, John Hamel, Revere Beach Partnership board chair, was so intent on finding someone to challenge Jobi that the organization has reached out to Singapore, Russia and even the Netherlands.
“The reason why is that when I met the winner last year, Jobi, it was his fourth time in a row winning and I said to him, ‘Who do I need to bring in to beat you?’” Hamel said. “So, we went out and got champions from festivals all over the world. We want to have the top Sandsculpting festival in the world and need to have the best sculptors in the world.”
Jobi, 36, said this week that he knows the competition will be fierce, and he is ready to give his all – though he may not yet know what his all might be, he said.
“I think the lineup is going to be very difficult this year,” he said. “I will be with some crazy sculptors…Planning what I’m doing is always difficult for me. My tools are ready, but my sculpture is not usually ready until I get there. I like to have the feeling of the place to help start my ideas. I’m there at Revere four years and each time my plan wasn’t made until I got there. Even the evening before the competition, sometimes I’m not exactly sure what my plan is. I’m really excited to get back to Revere Beach.”
Jobi has become known on Revere Beach for his amazing “cut outs,” or hollowed out sculptures. One of his most memorable such sculptures was that of a hollowed out turtle in 2011, which garnered him his second title.
Though he started sand sculpting through an interest in the art of woodcarving, the hollowed-out style is something altogether different. It’s something he said that he picked up by working with something that Quebec has a lot of – snow.
“I love to do that,” he said. “I love to dig inside my pieces. I guess I came up with this idea because of my background of snow carving. With snow, it’s more structural and stronger. We can dig into it a lot. I kept the same style and tried to transfer it to sand.”
Though he said he loves the hollowed-out style, he hinted that he may have something new to debut on Revere Beach this year.
“Maybe this year I will try something new,” he said. “I have an idea technically. Maybe I’ll try this new thing and something that I’ve never seen before. First, though, I have to figure out how to accomplish it technically.”
Finally, Jobi said he is enthusiastic to get back to Revere because the crowd is so friendly and chatty; and because the sand is the best he has ever seen.
“I think the sand on Revere Beach is probably the best sand I’ve tried so far,” he said. “It’s a little hard to compact because it keeps the water in it. The Revere sand is more physical and we have to really work to compact it. I guess because it keeps the water, it makes the sand stronger. This sand is really unusually strong. We saw that with the turtle I did in 2011.It really holds up.”
And on the crowd, “A lot of people – especially on Revere Beach – are more close to the carvers. They talk a lot to the carvers. I heard a couple times people telling me, ‘Wow Jobi, I remember you from last year.’ Or they’ll say, ‘I remember the turtle you did.’ I notice that people remember what I did in the past and they expect a lot. I hope I will be good enough to fulfill they’re expectations.”
It will all be known in the third week of July.