Eight hours, 560 ewes, one world record.
The equation was simple for Southland shearer Jimmy Clark as he blitzed the eight-hour, strong-wool shearing record yesterday by 65 ewes at Wairaki Station, near Blackmount, in western Southland.
The previous record for full-wool crossbred ewes of 495 was set by Marton shearer Hayden Te Huia in 1999.
Clark, who already jointly held two world records, equalled Te Huia's mark at 4.07pm yesterday, adding 65 sheep in the 53-minute home stretch, urged on by a boisterous crowd of more than 200 people.
Over the eight hours he averaged one sheep every 51.43 seconds.
The father of two broke into a smile only on the last sheep. Clark shook hands with his support team -- stacked with world record-holders -- and hugged wife Jackie.
The 30-year-old Blackmount man, a neighbour of Wairaki Station, admitted to being thrilled by the record-breaking effort. "Yeah, happy. I'm quite surprised how many people turned up."
Four referees from the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, led by Australian Mark Baldwin, assessed the sheep and the pen on Tuesday night.
Every half-hour they counted the sheep and checked the quality of shearing.
Clark was issued with an official warning at 2pm yesterday because his standard was slipping.
The attempt organiser, Southland shearing legend Darin Forde, of Winton, urged Clark to concentrate harder on the job about 3.45pm to ensure he did not get a second warning which would have meant disqualification.
Two sheep were taken from his tally -- one for a minor cut and the other because it was roughly shorn.
Despite that, Baldwin commended Clark for an excellent job. "It's (the record) out there for someone to have a go at, but they'll have to do their homework."
Clark's "homework" since April has included training at the gym, running and swimming.
During the breaks between his four two-hour stints yesterday he had the services of a physiotherapist and masseuse.
Clark's father, Hugh, who shore for 20 years, said mid-afternoon that he was extremely nervous and proud. He was humble about the influence he had on his son's career.
"He started with me, but Darin Forde's the one's that made him the shearer that he is today," he said.
The talk around Wairaki's shearing shed yesterday was that shearers tend to get better with age.
"I think I could do better," Clark said after yesterday's effort.
Clark was part of a six-stand gang, led by Forde, in January 2005 that set a world mark of 4188 crossbred lambs in nine hours, breaking the record by 997 lambs.
In 2006, Clark joined Shane and Peter Harvey at Mount Linton Station to break the three-stand crossbred lamb record.
He contributed a career-best 769 lambs to the 2350 tally.
- The Press
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