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Saturday all-go for Bolay’s record attempt

Worries about a possible December storm in an otherwise warm New Zealand summer has resulted in Canadian shearer Pauline Bolay’s historic World shearing record attempt being brought-forward to take place on Saturday(December 7).

In the first World shearing record bid by any North American shearer, the 33-year-old Bolay, from Fairford, Manitoba, is challenging the women’s solo 8-hours strongwool lambs of 507, set by New Zealand shearer Kerri-Jo Te Huia in January 2012.

It will take place at Whitford Farms, Waikaretu (between Raglan and Pukekohe), where Bolay saw employer Emily Welch shear a 9hrs record of 648 just a week after the Canadian first arrived in New Zealand in November 2007.

She’s been a regular shearing in New Zealand ever since, but has had a particularly big last year-and-a-half, starting with 6th place in the Calgary Shears North American Open Championship final in July 2018.

As the first Canadian in a final won by New Zealand-based former World champion Gavin Mutch, of Scotland, she became the first woman selected to represent Canada at the World Championships.

Back down-under earlier this year she was runner-up to Welch in the Golden Shears women’s final in Masterton and 5th in the New Zealand Shears women’s final in Te Kuiti

She then headed to the UK where she won the Novice woolhandling at the Devon County Show and a women’s Shearing event at the Royal Cornwall Show, before heading to France for the World championships in July, with a best result of 5th in supporting event the All-Nations women’s final.

Crossing the Atlantic almost immediately after the championships she beat-off several male challengers to then become the first woman to win at the Calgary Stampede.

While the big names were missing, it did put her name on the honours board alongside such illustrious previous winners as New Zealand World champions David Fagan and Paul Avery, and 2006 Golden Shears champion Dion King.

Bolay will have some big help for the attempt which will start at 7am on Saturday and finish at 5pm, split into four 2-hour runs separated by breaks of 30 minutes for morning and afternoon tea and an hour for lunch.

Welch and husband Sam are both World shearing record holders, and also on hand will be gear expert Ants Bryant, who has helped with several other records, including those in England by New Zealand brothers Matt and Rowland Smith.

About 600 mainly coopworth lambs will be prepared for the day, from three properties, but primarily that of farmer Tom Mandeno. The senior woolhandler will be Sianna Herbert, and a panel of judges is being assembled by the records society, including one from Australia.

Sam Welch said Bolay had shorn at least two tallies over 400 and while a tough day is expected it was important for the shearer.

“She wanted to give it a go now, but I said why not now,” he said. “It’s not the end of the World if you don’t get it. Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise, to get that experience. She can certainly get up and go.”

“It’s pretty cool to be turning up here in the same woolshed as Emily’s record, 12 years later,” he said.

A sample shear will take place on Friday to ensure the average wool-weight is over 0.9kg per lamb. To break the record Bolay will need to average less than 56.8sec per lab, caught, shorn and dispatched.

The attempt was originally scheduled for December 10.


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