The 59th Golden Shears have started strongly with more than 150 competitors in shearing, woolhandling and woolpressing events in the opening sessions of the three-day annual championships.
With strong and growing support from agricultural training institutions, there were near record entries in the novice shearing and woolhandling events which later in the day will have the first of more than 20 finals at the championships, held in Masterton's War Memorial Stadium since the inception in 1961.
The novice shearing attracted 46 entries and there were 28 in the novice woolhandling.
Junior woolhandling had 17 entries and there were 14 in the first woolpressing event.
Almost 50 were in the junior shearing heats, which were also well under way by midday.
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With intermediate shearing and senior woolhandling heats in the afternoon it was expected that more than 200 people will have competed on the opening day, mainly from New Zealand, but also including shearers and woolhandlers from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Canada and Australia.
Golden Shears president Sam Saunders was enthralled as he reflected on the youth of the competitors, at a time when the industry has been crying-out for more young people to become involved.
"This is brilliant," he said. "It's exactly what we're looking for."
As well as being president Saunders' has daily duties as "runner," showing a commitment typical of those helping the championships tick-over.
The first-day events include the Golden Shears Life Members Student Shearing Challenge, with competitors from four secondary and tertiary institutions offering agricultural training.
Among the competitors shaping up for a busy day was Masterton teenager Adam Gordon, who was the top qualifier in the novice shearing heats, and second-to-top qualifier in the novice woolhandling heats, with semi-finals and possibly finals to follow before late afternoon.
The Goodger brothers, also from Masterton, looked again set to dominate the woolpressing, with Vincent and Jeremy qualifying for tomorrow's semi-final, but also shearing alongside each other in the junior shearing heats.