A Gore shearer will this week tackle a world shearing record that has stood for more than 13 years.
Megan Whitehead, 24, will attempt the solo women's nine-hours strongwool lamb shearing record of 648 (72 an hour), set on November 27, 2007, by Waikato shearer Emily Welch. The previous record of 541 had been set in 1989.
Whitehead has been shearing in recent months in Hawke's Bay and King Country.
The attempt will take place at the Grant Brothers woolshed at Gore on Thursday, starting at 5am and finishing at 5pm.
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Whitehead, a daughter of former shearers Quentin Whitehead and Tina McColl, is already the joint holder of one world record, the four-stand eight-hours women's record of 2066 lambs set in the Central North Island on January 23 last year. She shore a personal best of 608, the best of the day and at an average of 76 an hour.
Under the auspices of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, there are standard rules, with five "runs" during the day, from 5am-7am, 8am-9.45am, 10.15am-noon, 1pm-2.45pm, and 3.15pm-5pm, separated by one-hour breakfast and lunch breaks, and half-hour morning and afternoon "smoko" (morning and afternoon-tea breaks). For comparison sake, eight-hours records are done in four two-hour runs. Both nine hours and eight hours are standard working days in New Zealand woolsheds.
Five judges have been appointed (one watching via AVL from Australia because of Covid-19 travel restrictions) to ensure appropriate quality and record rules are adhered to. Judges will on Wednesday oversee the shearing of 20 sample lambs, from which the average clip must be a minimum of 0.9kg of wool per lamb for the attempt to go ahead. During the attempt the judges may remove individual sheep from the tally or even call the event off early if the quality is below the required standards.
In the record 13 years ago, Emily Welch shore 144 in the two hours before breakfast followed by successive 1hr 45min runs of 125, 123, 127, and 129.
More than 70 people will be involved in making sure the event runs smoothly on the day.
There are considerable costs involved which include world record fees, judges expenses, accommodation, food, shed preparation etc. A large team of sponsors has been gathered to support Team Whitehead with Snowline Rams being the platinum sponsor.
The record attempt marks the start of a big three days of shearing in Southland, with the Northern Southland Community Shears (national long wool shearing and woolhandling champs) in a woolshed near Lumsden on Friday and the Southland Shears national crossbred lamb shearing and woolhandling champs on Saturday at the Winton A and P Show. There are also speedshear events at the Railway Hotel Otautau on Thursday night, the Middle Pub, Winton, on Friday night, and the Colac Bay Tavern on Saturday night.