Taking a break from the Olympics on TV, Richard Solares and his nephew, Damien, emerged from a field of 40 competitors to take top “gold” honors in the inaugural California Sandbag Doubles competition at the Spitfire Grill Saturday, August 16. Greg Carter and his son, West, were first runners-up and took home silver.
An eclectic group of professors, lawyers, a policeman, construction workers, and other Santa Monicans showed up to compete in the first-ever sandbag doubles. The game was invented, and the event was organized, by Santa Monica resident Steve Mount whose son, Dane, plays a similar game at his college in the Midwest. Founding Sandbag Board Member Graham Wong (a well-known local soccer referee) oversaw the proceedings and maintained the results as players advanced in their brackets.
Sandbag Doubles is a kind of three-dimensional shuffleboard – a cross between beach volleyball (uses real sand!), basketball, horseshoes, and darts. The object of the game is to land small sand-filled bags in the center hole of a game board. Players take four tosses to a turn and the ultimate is a “4-bagger” perfect “run.” While there were some “3-baggers” on Saturday, no one landed all four. Each bag that makes it into the hole counts a point, and the first duo to 21 wins their round and advances.
By late afternoon the field of 40 had narrowed to two teams of baggers, the Solares’ and the Carters. The lead seesawed in tense action in the early tosses and neither team could get a commanding lead. Then young Damien threw an incredible seven point round to deflate the Carters, and the Solares went on to become first-ever champs. In keeping with the Olympic spirit, the winning Solares team received small gold sandbags on ribbons, and the Carters were awarded silver bags for the second-best effort. It is believed that the Solares may try for as many as eight victories in a row to match Michael Phelps.
After the match was over, many returned to watching the Olympics on TV including handball, synchronized swimming, field hockey, race walking, trampoline, and steeplechase.