Record-breaking shearer Jack Fagan will be a man in a hurry again as he rushes to help get the North Island shearing sports season finally underway this weekend.
The shearer of 811 lambs in nine-hours in a five-stand World Record shear less than a month ago, Fagan will shear the North Island Speedshear Championship at the Waitete rugby club in Te Kuiti on Frida night, will fly from Auckland to Nelson the next morning to get to Saturday's Tapawera Sports Shears.
But that's only halfway – he returns north for the Horowhenua Shears shearing and woolhandling championships in Levin on Sunday, before heading back to Te Kuiti to work.
With Fagan on the Te Kuiti-Auckland-Tapawera-Levin venture will be South Island shearer Paul Hodges, who has been shearing in Hawke's Bay.
Organisers of the competitions, including Fagan up-front with the Te Kuiti speedshear, are appealing for more entries as competitions and the shearing industry face multiple issues stemming from the Covid-19 crisis, which has already forced the cancellation of 24 of the 59 shows on the 2021-2022 Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar.
While the shearing-only Tapawera Shears is the 10th competition to get a start in the South Island, the events in Te Kuiti and Levin will be the first in the North Island this summer.
All will be vaccination-pass events
Meanwhile, Golden Shears and former world champion shearer Rowland Smith is considering making his first appearance of the season at Levin – shearing willing.
The open champion at Levin six times in the last nine years, Smith was "flat-out all the time" running a small shearing gang, and shearing in it, in Hawke's Bay.
Smith said on Wednesday night he couldn't make a decision on the Horowhenua Shears until the last minute because of the pressure on the work amid a general shortage of shearers nationwide, without the usual influx of labour from the UK and other countries.
He said it depended on three more "good" days in the woolshed, but he expected the crew would still be working on Sunday - although it was probably within a week of the end of the busiest part of the season.
Smith won't be making the inter-island dash he also made the last time Tapawera and Horowhenua were back-to-back on the same weekend in 2016, when he won both finals.
The Tapawera Shears, about 66km southwest of Nelson, start at 10am Saturday, with shearing in the Open, Senior, Intermediate, and Junior grades, a Clean Shear and a Speedshear, all at the Tapawera Recreation Reserve.
The Horowhenua Shears, with shearing in all grades from open to novice, will also have woolhandling for the first time since 2009, in the open, senior and junior grades, and will start at 9am on Sunday.
The Horowhenua shearing and A.P. and I. Show committees have stepped up as cancellations forced the abandonment of the 2021-2022 North Island Woolhandling Circuit, with a string of A and P show cancellations in October and November and at least four more competitions that would have been held in January-March.
Horowhenua shearing convener Don Bryant said the numbers of advance entries had been low, with woolhandlers outnumbering shearers.
As with most shows, entries are open until on the day, but in the circumstances, organisers need clear indications of how many to expect.
SSNZ chairman Sir David Fagan said all committees are putting extreme amounts of voluntary effort into "making the competitions happen" and competitors need to support the events to also help ensure they continue.