A new speedshear circuit has opened in the King Country with the region's first family of shearing taking the major honours.
In remote country, 72km south of Te Kuiti, or 31km northwest of Taumarunui, the open final at the Matiere Cossie Club Speedshear on Saturday night was won by speedshears regular, Jack Fagan of Te Kuiti.
Competing in a field of 17, Fagan shore his single lamb in the heats in just over 28 seconds to qualify fifth among the eight for the final showdown.
It was there that he turned it on to go less than a blow from clipping under 20 seconds, scoring the $1000 first prize by almost three seconds from runner-up Kelvin Walker, of Piopio, who had been top qualifier for the final.
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Fagan has now won 17 speedshears, including a notable victory during the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill, and a personal best speedshear time of 15.95sec at Builth Wells in Wales just before this year's Royal Welsh Show.
"The welsh lambs are the fastest in the world, but the New Zealand lambs are more consistent so they are much easier to select combs for," said Fagan.
The James Ritchie King Country Speedshear Circuit is named in memory of a popular shearer killed in a road crash less than three weeks after finishing runner-up to Golden Shears and New Zealand shearing champion Rowland Smith in the inaugural North Island Speedshear Championship in Te Kuiti in January this year.
Listen to Sir David Fagan talk to The Country about his son's performance in the audio below:
The circuit continues at the Riverside Lodge Speedshear in Te Kuiti next Saturday, and this season's North Island event at Te Kuiti's Waitete Rugby Club on January 11, the Aria Waitangi Day Sports Speedshear on February 6, and the last round in the New Zealand Championships speedshear in Te Kuiti's Waitomo club on March 28.
The circuit winner will be decided on points for placings with a maximum of 12 for winning at each venue.
Among about 20 speedshear events affiliated to national shearing and woolhandling competitions authority Shearing Sports New Zealand in the 2018-2019 season, they are the first to be co-ordinated in a circuit since a former series in south and mid Canterbury, which linked several charity events in hotels throughout the area.
Interest has been reignited by the number of speedshears being held in Australia, where they are known as Quick Shears, leading to the staging of the Mangawhai Tavern Speedshear north of Auckland on November 3.
It offered an open final first prize of $2000, which was won by Hawke's Bay shearer and former world nine-hour lambshearing record holder Dion King.
Other speedshears through December and January are the Top Shot Bar's Te Puna Speedshear near Tauranga on January 12, and the Wairoa A and P Show's Speedshear on January 18.
There is also a speedshear fest in Southland, with three successive nights on January 17-19 at the Railway Hotel in Otautau, the Middle Pub in Winton, and the Colac Bay Hotel near Riverton.
They will be making the best of the number of shearers working in the region at the time and numbers competing in the Northern Southland Community Shears and the Winton A and P Show's national crossbred lambs Shearing and Woolhandling Championships' on January 18 and 19 respectively.
Another will be held at the Tapawera Hotel on January 26, coinciding with the Tapawera Sports Shears.
Result of the Matiere Cossie Club Speedshear on Saturday, December 1, 2018:
Open: Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 20.02sec, 1; Kelvin Walker (Piopio) 22.9sec, 2; Digger Balme (Te Kuiti) 23.04sec, 3.
Senior: Connor Puha (Kimbolton) 1.