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Big day out for women's shearing record hopefuls

Four ambitious female shearers have entered the last stages of their preparation for a unique bid to get their names into the World record books on a sheep station in the central North Island tomorrow.

The four-stand women’s 9-hours strongwool lambshearing record challenge will take place at Waihi-Pukawa Station, near Turangi, starting at 5am and ending at 5pm, with the standard format of two hours’ shearing to breakfast, followed by four runs of 1hr 45mins separated by two 30-minute morning and afternoon breaks and an hour for lunch.

It will be the first multi-stand record since mother-and-daughter Marg and Ingrid Bayne’s did a two-stand record 11 years ago, and the first by any greater number of women in 41 years.

There is no current four-stand women’s record under World Sheep Shearing Record Society rules formulated in the mid-1980s.

But organiser and former solo record holder Jills Angus Burney, from Feilding but now living in Masterton, says shearers Sarah Higgins, of Blenheim, Megan Whitehead, of Gore, Piopio-based Natalya Rangiawha, from Raglan, and mainly South Island-based Amy Silcock, from Wairarapa farming locality Tiraumea, are capable of a combined total exceeding 2000, an average of 500 lambs each.

It’s very much about conditions being right on the day – the forecast is for a fine-weather start - but the women, striking another blow for the gender amid the continually growing profile of women as shearers, won’t be short of support, with a significant volunteer force having gathered to start sheep and woolshed preparation on Sunday and Monday, ahead of the quartet’s first practice run together today.

Angus Burney said 2300 lambs have been selected, and in a sample wool-weigh shear today before the judges, an average of about 1.3kg wool per lamb is expected, comfortably head of the 0.9kg requirement.

Shearers vastly experienced with record attempts are on hand and Angus Burney said: “We had a good line picked - those guys are really pleased with the lambs.”

The target flock of 2300 were crutched on Monday, among the helpers being 12 of the crew of Piopio contractor Mark Barrowcliffe who helped at a successful three-stand record by three male shearers at Puketiti on December 23.

Angus Burney said the shearers had started physically preparing more than six months ago, although a replacement had had to be brought-in after the withdrawal of injured shearer Helga Sinclair.

The organiser said the bid, costing about $15,000 to stage including a World Sheep Shearing Records Society fee close to $8000 to assist with having the required international judging panel, is about the shearers challenging themselves.

They would be heartened and motivated by the effort of Canadian shearer Pauline Bolay who shore a solo women’s eight-hour record of 510 early last month.


ends

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