A local police officer will swap his patrol car for an excavator next weekend as he competes to be number one at the National Excavator Operator Championship.
Sam Scott will join winners from eight other regions at next week's Central Districts Field Days event, after taking out the Manawatu competition in November.
Scott is a former engineer who became a police officer in 2011.
This is the third time he has competed in the competition, and says after taking a break, he's excited to be back on board.
"I haven't entered for a few years but, being a police officer, I really miss the machines and the industry. This helps me keep a hand in."
He says he's looking forward to testing himself against current defending champion Steve Galbraith from Hawkes Bay.
The pair have competed with each other every time and are usually neck-and-neck.
"Funnily enough we have become good friends over the years and enjoy a bit of friendly rivalry."
The championship is comprised of four events across two days. The main course involves using a 12-tonne Hitachi excavator to complete up to 15 activities over 60 minutes.
Spectators will be treated to a mix of traditional excavation exercises and more out-of-the-box tasks like carrying a fresh egg or pouring a cup of tea.
"The types of tasks we have to complete change year to year so, you never really know what you are going to get," Scott says.
Having four very different elements means you are challenged every step of the way.
"You can absolutely cane it out on the field but then be completely rubbish at the other stuff. They are looking for the best all-rounder so you have to be smart about how you compete."
The three remaining tasks will test their first aid and emergency responses as well as their ability to teach youngsters and their composure under pressure.
Competition manager Malcolm Abernathy says the contest demonstrates the high level of skill and knowledge needed to operate an excavator safely.
"For example, before any operator digs a trench they should be checking for any buried service lines.
"We'll re-create that kind of scenario in the competition."
The Central Districts Field Days will be held at Manfeild from March 16-18.
The National Excavator Operator Championships will be held in the Contractor's Corner on both Friday and Saturday.
- For more information visit www.cdfielddays.co.nz