A former Tauranga man has claimed a world title at the International Tree Climbing Championships in Texas.
The championships are an annual event run by the International Society of Arboriculture and were attended by 64 professional tree climbers from around the world, including North America, Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
James Kilpatrick, originally from Tauranga, was named the 2016 men's champion. He has earned two championship titles in Germany and three in New Zealand.
This was his fourth international event competing as the men's Asia Pacific Champion. Kilpatrick is also the current world record holder in the ITCC Men's Secured Footlock with a time of 13.65 seconds.
Kilpatrick owns his own company, Kilpatrick Tree Care and lives in Hamburg, Germany.
The women's champion also hailed from New Zealand. Chrissy Spence of Morrinsville competed in her tenth international championship.
Having won the championship three times previously, in 2005, 2007, and 2011, she is the first four-time women's champion. The last time Spence had competed at the ITCC was in 2011 when the event was held in Australia. She currently works for Pro Climb as a contract tree climber.
International Society of Arboriculture executive director Jim Skiera said championships demonstrated that professional arborists had the required knowledge, training, and expertise to perform tree work safely.
"The competition also provides opportunity for us to introduce the public to what professional, competent, and safe tree care should look like.
"The arborists who compete at the ITCC have a high level combination of skill and athleticism. As an organization, we couldn't be more proud of this year's event and of the skills demonstrated by Chrissy and James during the competition."
Participants competed in five separate preliminary qualifying events. The top overall scorers (five men and three women) then moved on to the Masters' Challenge Finals sponsored by Husqvarna. World champions receive cash prizes, chain saw prize packages, plaques, as well as other prizes donated by event sponsors.
To qualify for the championships, regional competitions are held around the world by chapters and associate organizations of the ISA. Winners of those events earn the opportunity to represent their organization/country at the international event.