Clock ticks as competitive bricklayers work to win prizes and bragging rights in Surrey

Two-man masonry teams competed at KPU in Cloverdale

John Kerr checks his wall with a level during the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition at KPU’s Cloverdale campus Wednesday (Oct. 21).

CLOVERDALE — In the world of competitive bricklaying, John Kerr was a defending champion, a master of mortar who set out to repeat his 2014 win of the regional Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 contest.

Kerr, who lives in the Gateway area of Surrey, was among competitors at the annual B.C. regional event, held at KPU’s Cloverdale campus last Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 21).

The mason and his brick-and-mortar-delivering tender, Richard Furrer, formed one of seven teams competing for a $500 top prize and, as the B.C. rep, a trip to a World of Masonry competition in Las Vegas in February.

“This competition is about skill and speed, so the guys have an hour to lay as many bricks as they can to build a wall, and the average is usually around 500 bricks, which is moving pretty darn fast,” said Carlos Zamora, who organizes the local event on behalf of his employer, Spec Mix.

The two-man masonry teams wore matching blue T-shirts, yellow ball caps and brown pants as they cleaned their taped-off stalls before the competition began.

As they prepped, a big mixer at one end of the warehouse poured mortar into wheeled tubs for delivery to each of the duos as they worked to build a 26-foot wall.

Wearing red T-shirts, a small team of judges roamed around as metal and hip-hop music rocked the big room, otherwise used as an art studio.

“As judges, we’re looking for voids, tipped bricks, lifted bricks and chipped bricks, and that’s something the tender should be looking after, making sure none of the bricks he puts down are chipped,” Zamora explained. “We’re also looking for joint thickness, either too fat or too skinny.

“We want them to go for speed and the number of bricks laid,” he added, “but we also want it to be a sellable wall, something that will look good on a job site, and that’s why we also have a craftsmanship prize (worth $400).”

In the stall at the far end of the room, a framed photo of Paul De Palma rested on a plank next to a written memorial.

“He was a masonry instructor here, and he was really amped about this competition and was going to compete as well,” Zamora said, “but unfortunately he passed away in the summer after having a heart attack while driving. That stall, that’s where he would have competed here today, so we’re paying tribute to him.”

De Palma also taught masonry at a high school in Maple Ridge, and some of those students wore orange T-shirts and helped wheel tubs of mortar to each competitor.

At around 2:30 p.m., the emcee barked out a countdown and the competition began.

Kerr was at the height of concentration as he got off to a flying start, setting brick after brick in quick fashion. His wife Cindy Brugger, along with other family and friends, formed a cheering squad.

“We’re hoping he gets back there to Vegas, for sure,” Brugger said. “It was an amazing experience last year.… He’s worked hard for this, and he loves his job.”

However, during their golden hour of hustle and determination, tragedy struck the tandem when Furrer slipped, lost his balance and bumped into a competitor’s wall, dislodging a few bricks.

“That’s an automatic disqualification in this competition,” Zamora said later.

In the end, the contest in Cloverdale was won by mason Riel Voigt, of S&S Masonry, with the help of tender Theo Van Tunen (pictured at left). Voigt laid 647 bricks, with no point deductions. He also took home the craftsmanship title.

During last year’s competition, held at the Trowel Trades Training Association complex on Industrial Road in Surrey, Voigt placed second after laying 348 bricks.

Other bricklayers in this year’s competition were Corey Stocks (with tender Jason Garnett), Charles Thifault (Glen Hansom), Sean Kelly (Matthew Wearmouth), Matt McDougall (Ryan Andres) and Derek Melo (Scott Arthurs).

“Some of the guys here are apprehensive because it’s their first time in the competition, but we also have some veterans here,” Zamora explained before the competition began.

“These are professionals. They took the day off today to work this, to win this. This is for bragging rights and they can also use this on their business card. It’s a big deal to them.”

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP recover $80,000 worth of stolen property

Police found the property after executing two search warrants in Newton

White Rock approves scaled-up Festival of Lights for 2020

Event to run for nearly 60 days, and expand from the white rock to Oxford Street

White Rock to encourage Uber, Lyft to operate in city

South Surrey and White Rock are without ride-hailing services, for now

Annual Battle of the Badges hockey game to combat bullying in Delta schools

This year’s Battle of the Badges takes place at Sungod Arena on Pink Shirt Day (Wednesday, Feb. 26)

Trains through White Rock, Surrey could be affected by rail blockades

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

AFN national chief calls for calm on Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades

Hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation oppose the natural-gas pipeline

Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

Canadians seeking to return to home by commercial means will be subject to the Quarantine Act

VIDEO: Giants win 10th straight on home ice in Langley

Family Day was about spending time with the fans and dazzling them with a 3-2 victory over Seattle

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Most Read