The secret to making a good beach sculpture is knowing the sand, according to one of the sculptors who created pieces for the Maracumba, Wonders of Jungle exhibit at this weekend’s Wonders of Sand festival in Gatineau.

“Every sand is different so you need to test before,” said Marc Lepire, a professional ice carver and sand sculptor.

The sand at Lac Beauchamp had a lot of clay in it, which meant it was great for big overhangs, but not so good for detailed work and straight lines, he said.

In previous years, professional sculptors competed against one another at the Wonders of Sand, but since they only had the weekend to complete the work, it meant as few as six high-quality sculptures on display for the weekend, said event spokesperson Anny Spooner.

This year, instead of a competition, Lepire and other professional sculptors teamed up to create 17 pieces for the jungle-themed professional exhibit. Spooner said they are already looking to expand to around 40 sculptures for next year with a different theme.

Lepire said it takes a team of three an entire day just to pack the sand in order to get it ready for sculpting. Then a carving team will take two or three days to create the sculpture.

The event also held competitions for amateur teams and individual sculptors yesterday afternoon.

Though his St. John’s Ambulance youth team didn’t win for creating an ambulance surrounded by a giant snake, Ottawa resident Sebastien Dube said the competition was more fun than he expected.

“I don’t think we expected to win, but at least it looks like a snake,” said his teammate Cynthia Clark, from Gatineau. “It was supposed to be just an ambulance, but when we realized there was a jungle theme we added the snake.”