Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan has won his second consecutive World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships' All-Nations speed shear, on an opening night which was more about friendship than anything else.
Winner of the open-entry speed shear at the 2017 championships in Invercargill, Fagan shore the two-man final alongside Frenchman Thimoleon Resneau in front of about 1000 people last night in the Limoges city square, about 50km from where the championships-proper start on Thursday in Le Dorat.
"It couldn't have been a better way to have a final," said 26-year-old Fagan soon after delivering his victory speech in fluent French.
"Thimo is one of my best friends here in France, we get on really well."
Unlike most speed shear events, money wasn't the aim, with no cash at stake.
Read more shearing articles here.
Fagan won a plate from unique Limoges porcelain, which he says will be shown proudly on the mantelpiece or wall back home in New Zealand.
Each finalist also won a Lister Scorpion shearing handpiece.
"Over here it's the honour that counts. It it's not the money that counts," he said,
Further recognition of his now several trips to France is that while not a member if the New Zealand team Fagan will still play a big part in the championships, and had been invited to MC the prizegiving ceremonies.
Dedicating the speed shear win event to grandfather David Hawkins, who died in England last week, Fagan shore his final sheep in 19.69sec, winning by the comfortable speed shear margin of just under three seconds.
Resneau, from Limoux, Laude, shore 22.59sec.
Fagan, 26, was just as dominant in the semi-finals, shearing his sheep in 20.7sec, as he and Resneau sent-off the last two other competitors, Cook Islands representative and New Zealand-based shearer Aaron Bell and England representative Adam Berry.
New Zealand championships hopes Cam Ferguson and Rowland Smith, both of Hawke's Bay, were each eliminated in the heats.
About 300 people competed in the open-entry, multi-grade All-Nations shearing and woolhandling events which precede the World title events, starting on Thursday.
An official opening ceremony will take place late on Thursday, featuring French Minister of Agriculture Didier Guilliaume.
With Ferguson and Smith in the AllFlex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling team are Canterbury blade shearers Tony Dobbs and Allan Oldfield, and woolhandlers Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, and Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra.