Lethbridge brothers repeat as best brick mason and tender in Alberta
CALGARY -- For the second straight year, two brothers from Lethbridge have earned the right to call themselves the best brick mason and tender in Alberta and they'll once again head to Las Vegas to compete for a world title.
Six teams — each made up of a mason and a tender — competed in the Alberta Regional Series at I-XL Building Products in Calgary on Friday, with the winner moving on to the World Championship in Las Vegas.
The goal of the competition is to build an eight-metre long brick wall as high as possible in just one hour.
The event has run for 19 years and Doug and Daniel Veldman defended their provincial title. After winning last year, the brothers went head-to-head in Vegas against 25 teams from the U.S., Australia and the U.K. — and held their own.
“Well, I laid the most bricks out of everybody,” said Doug. “But I had a few deductions so I ended up in sixth place.”
They won this year's qualifier with a total brick count of 582.
By comparison, last year’s world champion had a brick count of 756.
The mason is the only one to touch the wall, while the tender is responsible for laying out all the bricks and mortar needed for the timed event, and making sure they don’t run out.
“We all know we do good work,” said organizer Denis Charbonneau. “We all work hard and we want to be the best, and we want to feel like we’re the best, and this competition is no different than say a Stanley Cup or an NBA championship, you get to win and be called the Alberta mason of the year.”
The mason with the highest brick count at the end of judging earns a roster spot at the 2021 World Championship taking place in Las Vegas during the World of Concrete conference.
The competition is designed to test speed, skill, and stamina by challenging teams to build the best brick wall with as few errors as possible in the time limit.
“We call it an hour of madness,” said Charbonneau.
David Sontag has been a mason for 36 years, alongside his father and brother. Sontag teamed up with tender Sunny Harvey and they have competed together for the last eight years.
“They’re looking for the best wall not the fastest wall,” said Sontag. “If it was the fastest wall they wouldn’t look as good as they do, we have to make this ready for judges to look at and hopefully it’s what the judges are looking for, and the quality is there for us.”
Competitors use anywhere from 400 to 700 bricks, depending on how fast they are. Niko Bradvica is a third-generation mason who went to school to become a civil engineer but didn’t like it. This is the second year he’s taken part in the event.
“My goal is just to compete, that’s it,” said Bradvica. “I can’t say I’m going to do good because I haven’t touched brick in so long, we’re doing (work mostly in Calgary with) block and stone and stuff, so I just want to push my limit see what I can do.”
After the one-hour event, the contestants are given a five-minute break then they have 15 minutes to fill any holes and clean up the mortar.
Then judging takes place, where the number of bricks used is totalled and points are deducted for any mistakes.
Learn more about the Las Vegas 2021 World Championship online.