NEW RIVER BEACH – If you were at New River Beach a year ago, you probably noticed a lot of activity at Carrying Cove, such as a television crew being set up on the beach. That crew was in New Brunswick to record a new reality television show, Race Against the Tide, hosted by comedian Shaun Majumder, which is set to air on CBC Television in September.

Executive Producer Mark Bishop, who is also the co-founder of Marble Media, the production company which created Race Against the Tide, said everyone involved with the production is excited about the September 9 launch date. He said they have a “great time slot”, and there has been a lot of promotion happening to get the word out about this fun and unique reality show.

“There’s been some promotion during the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is great, on CBC television,” said Bishop. “There’s going to be more promotion during the Olympics, which I guess is coming up in a couple of weeks. You’re going to see some of our ads on buses and trains and shelters in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.”

Bishop, who co-founded Marble Media with friend Matt Hornburg 20 years ago, said Race Against the Tide is an original competition series that was created by the Marble Media team. The show features 10 teams of “really incredible, world class sculptors” who compete in each episode to create amazing works of art out of sand. Like many other competition shows, there is a time limit, but in this case, the competitors aren’t using a traditional clock.

“What is most unique about this series as well is that we actually have a natural ticking clock in that the show is produced right on the edge of the Bay of Fundy and beautiful New River Beach,” said Bishop. “And from the time our contestants are competing, they know they have a clock. Of course, the thing is that the clock and timer, if you will, is actually the tide and watching the tide come in. All the competitors have to finish, and they have to be evaluated by our team of judges. And, all of that has to happen before the tide comes in and washes it all away.”

Bishop said there is a “peaceful moment” at the end of each show where viewers get to see the tide wash away the beautiful sand sculptures. He said the entire process of building a sand sculpture is very interesting to watch, and he learned some interesting facts about sand sculptures. The artists begin with what is called the “pound up”. This is where they stack “layers and layers” of sand and water to give them a basic structure to work with. Once their structures are complete, the artists begin carving and designing.

“They just they work in the meticulous detail, so you watch how painstaking it is. And then the tides wash them away, and there’s that moment of the sadness of all that hard work. But again, what’s amazing is that there’s nothing left behind.”

Bishop, who grew up in Rothesay and now lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter, said his family loves to visit the area, and discovered Carrying Cove during a visit two summers ago. When his team at Marble Media began talking about developing Race Against the Tide, he said he felt the show had to be made on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. He said that is one of the unique aspects of the show, with the highest tides in the world and a race to finish before the tide washes everything away. He thought Carrying Cove was worthy of being featured in a television show. Luckily, the beach also had the right kind of sand for sculptures.

Many people may not realize it, but not all sand can be used to create sand sculptures. Bishop said his team had scouted other New Brunswick locations, but none had the right kind of sand. He didn’t realize that there had to be a “certain quality of sand”, and they had to test the sand at various beaches. Knowing that there is an annual sand sculpture contest at New River Beach, Bishop knew that the sand here would be ideal for the program. Another consideration was the environmental impact, and the fact the sand had to come from the beach they would be using, with no sand or water being brought in from other locations.

“It had to be naturally occurring sand, but certain sand had certain consistency that when you mix with water, will pull together properly,” said Bishop. “There’s no environmental impact, if you will, because we’re not bringing anything in. Everything is completely natural. They (artists) have their support teams bring it in in buckets from the ocean so they bucket it up. They have it in a container. We work closely with the province on environmental impact just to make sure there was no environmental impact and that we weren’t bringing in foreign land or foreign water into the ecosystem.”

Bishop said this production wouldn’t have been possible without the blessing of the province and local residents. His team hired several local people, about 75 all-together, to work on the show. He said the area residents were “just so wonderful and welcoming”, and he appreciates them letting his crew take over their beach while they were filming the show.

Bishop and his team were prepared for just about any eventuality when it came to creating Race Against the Tide, but one thing they hadn’t counted on was fog. The first day of the competition was a foggy one, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the artists or the production crew. So, in the first episode there is fog, but Bishop said they had sunny skies for the remainder of the competition.

“It’s funny because we talked about it and, you know, in production, you plan for everything,” said Bishop. “Everything in the world you plan for and it’s like, well, the fog, we can’t do anything about. Shaun Majumder, our host, is a great comedian and we had some fun with it. So the very first episode is in the fog. So, you know, we’re honest about what the weather is like, but at this point, that sometimes happens when you go to the beach. And if that’s your beach day, then you make the best of it and enjoy it.”

Bishop is excited about the show, which will air Thursday nights at 8 p.m. in September on CBC Television. After it airs, Race Against the Tide will be streamed online on CBC Gem. He said he can’t wait for people from New Brunswick and the rest of Canada to see the show, and eventually they plan to sell the show in other parts of the world.

“People have been asking about it in a number of other countries to see this really beautiful, special place and come and visit. I think it has to be shared with others, especially across the country. My hope is that the show will shine a spotlight for others to come and see because it’s a very special place.”

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca