Three shearers gathered from around New Zealand have smashed a World record by 264 sheep despite the heat, the pumiced sheep of inland Hawke's Bay and a year's wool weighing an average of over 3.5kg a sheep.
Shearing at Waitara Station, northwest of Napier, Luke Mullins, from Taihape but now of Te Awamutu, Eru Weeds, of Ohai and now of Roxburgh, and James Mack, of Weber and originally from Waikato, shore 1611 strongwool ewes in eight-hours.
The previous three-stand record was 1347, established almost 13 years ago by Hawke's Bay-based Shelford Wilcox, of Gisborne, and Napier's Errol Chrystal and nephew Kalin Chrystal.
While it was seen as the most targetable of all the World Sheep Shearing Records Society categories, the combination of the heat and pumice in the longer wool were expected to severely challenge the trio who had had limited experience in the conditions.
But, while coarse and dusty pumice meant cutter changes were needed about every 10 minutes - far more frequently than in most other conditions and probably costing at least another 20 sheep in time, the challengers overcame the odds and were on top from the time the first of the four two-hour runs started at 6am.
Their 358 in the first put them 40 up, and with 804 out by the early lunch at 10.30am, the wishful target of 1600 was clearly on.
In the end 35-year-old Mullins, watched by wife Rachel, and children Emaani, 8, Kawepo, 7, and Waiowheo, 4, topped the individual tallies with runs of 138, 139, 139, and 138 for a total of 554, more than 70 better than his previous best in eight hours.
He later told of seeing "the devil" as the stamina started to cave in the last hour, with the record in the bag, but he took the urging of World champion Rowland Smith in his "corner" to show everyone what he was "made of."
Weeds, 38, and watched by wife Nardia and children Eru jnr, 7, Jonas, 3, and Anneke, 1, shore runs of 134, 133, 136, and 136 for a total of 539, and Mack, 43, and watched by children Chelsea, 9, and Stella, 7, shore 518, having at one stage the misfortune to break one of the eight combs he had prepared for the event.
Judging convenor Peter Black, Hastings-born but having lived in West Australia for many years, said the quality was well within required standards.
While it was the first record attempt for Mullins, who had dreamed of doing a record since the age of 15 when he saw three shearers break a lambs record, it was the second record for Weeds and Mack, who helped set a four-stand lambshearing record in Southland in 2013.
The temperature hit just under 30 in the woolshed at over 550m altitude, where it was the third record set using the ewes of farmer and property owner Lloyd Holloway.
It was also the third World shearing record broken in the central North Island within eight days.