World Record Shearing Attempt

Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024 05:26 PM
Five young shearers from New Zealand’s country heartland “will go to war” when they take the stand for a crack at a world record in Southland this weekend.
All of the gang — the five going against the clock and a trusty backup — work alongside each other at Forde Winders Shearing based out of Riverton, a coastal township about 25 minutes’ drive from Invercargill. They will head inland to chase history at Grant Bros Farm, Campbell’s Block, in the Hokonui Hills above Gore, in their world shearing record attempt on Sunday, January 14, starting at 7am.
Their sights are trained on the world mark of 2910 lambs shorn in eight hours at Puketiti Station in the King Country — land of Colin Meads — held by Ringa Paewai, Willie Hewitson, Aidan Copp, Jock MacDonald and George Parker.
The record has stood for nine years and to beat it each shearer this weekend will need to be clipping at better than a lamb a minute — or 75+ an hour. But records are there to be broken, as Gisborne mum-of-two Catherine Mullooly, 34, proved this week when beating the solo women’s shearing world mark for strongwool ewes, posting a record 465.
Colac Bay-raised Max Winders, 30, who’s spent the past 13 years shearing around the world in Italy, Scotland and England, spearheads a team that has strong links to the North Island's farming region.
“It’s time to put this record to the test – and we are ready,” said Max Winders, son of Southland Stags favourite son Jeremy Winders. “The boys are pinging and it can’t come around fast enough.
“The hard work’s been done. It’s time to get the job done.”
Other members include Winders’ cousins Ben Boyle, 28, a big-boned Southland lad who will strong-arm his quota, and Josef Winders, 28, an athletic former New Zealand BMX representative who met his wife and former Silver Fern Sam (nee Sinclair) when studying at Waikato University.
Trent Hewes, at 25 the youngest of the quintet, grew up in the Waikato, while newly married Trevor Holland, 28, was born and raised in Taranaki. Blake Hewes, 25, and Trent’s twin, rounds out the team as the critical reserve.
If they didn’t know each other well enough from the sweat and toil of working alongside each other shearing the region’s sheep for the past half a dozen seasons, they certainly do now after an eight-month training regime focused on specialised techniques for shearing strongwool lambs and anaerobic and aerobic fitness.
It’s been hard yakka, Max Winders admits.
“I’m just so proud to be alongside these men,” he says. “They’re my cousins, they’re my friends – but they’re all my brothers. It’s a dream come true to go to war with them.”
On the day, each shearer will have a back-up team of up to 10 members – including two coaches – all set individual jobs to support the shearers. Southland shearing legend Darin Forde will be mentor Team Trent while his brother Edsel will be the coach in the ear of Winders’ men.
“These Southland geniuses of shearing that have been our inspiration from the start. They are two of many we will be wanting to make proud on the day. Two of many that have stepped in, flown in, dug into their pockets, you name it, to this record attempt.”
At least half a dozen judges — from around New Zealand and internationally — are being flown in to ensure everything’s by the rule book.
The world record shearing attempt is a pretty straight-forward exercise — there’s no tagging in and out of teams members. There are five shearers and each is on a stand for the full eight hours— kicking off at 7am.
The day is broken up into four two-hour runs, with two 30 min breaks (morning and afternoon tea) and an hour for lunch. During these breaks the boys will be showering, changing clothes, refuelling with food and electrolytes, getting treatment by physios and working with their teams on any issues that come to light, including reports from the judges. There might even be some dunks in ice followed by hot showers – notoriously named “hot and colds” – thrown in.
At the end of eight gruelling hours of shearing, there will hopefully be 3000 or more shorn sheep, five new world-record holders and two happy farmers. And a thousand beers.
The action kicks off on Sunday, January 14, at 7am. Spectators interested in a one-off day’s entertainment are invited to watch:
-Grant Bros Farm
-65 Otamika Valley Road
-Campbell’s Block
-Hokonui Hills
There’s an entry fee of a gold coin that goes to the cost of the shearing attempt, food sales and an outdoor live streaming screen.

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