Champ wins contest for his late boss

By Jonathan Dine

1 comment
Gair Contracting Napier operations manager Steve Galbraith, the winner of National Excavator Operator Competition, with his three trophies. Photo / Duncan Brown
Gair Contracting Napier operations manager Steve Galbraith, the winner of National Excavator Operator Competition, with his three trophies. Photo / Duncan Brown

New Zealand excavating champion Steve Galbraith has dedicated his first national title to his late boss.

Mr Galbraith almost didn't compete at the Central Districts Field Days in Feilding at the weekend as he mourned his employer of 25 years, Joe Gair.

"He always pushed me to enter those sort of competitions, I won it for him."

Mr Galbraith has had two previous third placings at nationals from five attempts.

Competitors had to dig trenches and small ponds while being judged on health and safety aspects as well as planning.

The Gair Contracting project manager said the paperwork aspect has traditionally not been his strong suit.

"As part of the competition you have to explain to the judges your methodology and fill out some paperwork, I did much better with that this year."

He credits this to his increasingly administrative position.

"I've spent a lot more time than I would like filling out paperwork rather than driving the machines."

Mr Galbraith drove two different sized machines, a 12-tonne and five tonne digger, although he is used to a 20 tonne.

Wet weather caused a bit of mud on the fields, making excavation difficult in the early stages. As the field toughened up so did the competition as Mr Galbraith scored 100 per cent on his Friday run.

The 38-year-old has never trained for any competition.

"I just turn up and put everything I've learnt to the test against the best."

His traditional rival once again proved a fierce opponent.

The 2015 champion, James Lux of Waikato's Fulton and Hogan, was hot on the heels of Mr Galbraith during the three-day competition.

"He's always tough, but I was happy to beat him."

His prize included a "few grand" in cash and "tools that contractors use".

The event, ending on Saturday, featured more than 560 displays of state-of-the-art agriculture.

Mr Galbraith said the weekend was very well run and went off "without a hitch".

He will return next year to defend both his provincial and national titles.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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