The shifting sands of Ocean City foiled an attempt to build the world's largest sand castle during the beach resort's annual sand festival.

When officials from the Guinness Book of World Records arrived in the beach resort to measure the mammoth castle, they found the top had crumbled slightly and the effort was two inches short of the record of 56 feet, 2 inches.

"We built the mound up to 60 feet high, but we made it too steep at the top," said Adam Showell, project coordinator for Sandcastle Fest 90. "You can't make sand stand straight up."

As a result, some of the sand fell during carving. Guinness gives only one chance, so the builders were not allowed to add two inches and have it remeasured last Friday, he said.

Gerry Kirk and a team from San Diego-based Sand Sculptors International, which also built the world record sand castle in Kaseda, Japan, built the Ocean City castle.

"We were short of the world record, but it is still the tallest sand sculpture ever built in the United States," Showell said.

The festival, which attracted thousands, will return next year, but organizers probably will wait a bit before attempting to break the record again, Showell said.