Kiwi breaks world shearing record in monumental feat

Shearer Matt Smith celebrates with supporters after breaking the solo nine-hours world record.

Shearer Matt Smith celebrates with supporters after breaking the solo nine-hours world record.

Northland born but England-based shearer Matt Smith has smashed the world solo nine-hours ewe shearing record with a tally of 731 in the first world shearing record ever attempted in the northern hemisphere.

The previous record of 721 had been set by Rodney Sutton more than nine years ago in a King Country woolshed.

Smith, 32, set the new record by shearing a flock of romney and crossbred ewes. He beat it comfortably with seven and a half minutes still left on the clock..

An exhausted Matt Smith after setting a shearing world record in 2010.

An exhausted Matt Smith after setting a shearing world record in 2010.

Shearing Sports New Zealand spokesman Doug Laing said Smith, who grew up around Ruawai in Northland, had shorn extensively in the northern hemisphere, including in the United States, Estonia, Norway and the UK.

Over the past nine years King Country shearer Stacey Te Huia has tried three times to break the record but has come up short.

Smith has recently settled in England with wife Pippa whom he married in 2014, near where the record took place at Trefranck Farm.

His first record breaking feat was in 2010 in Hawke's Bay when he shore 578 ewes in eight hours. He has in the past won a Golden Shears open plate competition.

Laing said the shearing started at 5am and finished at 5pm, a standard woolshed day including hour-long breaks for breakfast and lunch, and a half-hour each for morning and afternoon tea.

Smith needed an average of 44.9 seconds a sheep caught, shorn and dispatched. He  was immediately ahead of the pace with 164 in the first two hours to breakfast.

It was three more than the previous two-hour run record of 161 shorn by Southland shearer Darin Forde when he shore a record of 720 in 1997, and three more than when Sutton struggled through the first two hours of his record 10 years later.

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Smith then shore successive 1hr 45min runs of 142, 142 and 141, and needing just 133 in the final 105 minutes came home powerfully with a last-run 142.

Pippa Smith said her husband had been on a strict diet since returning from a stint shearing in New Zealand in mid-January.

"No coffee, no beer," she said. "He had a low carb diet just because his body functions better. Heaps of fish, chicken and venison, and veges. He had plenty of fluids on board too."

Conditions in the area were ideal, cloudy with temperatures up to about 19 degrees. During one merino shearing record in Australia in 2005, shearers lost a litre of fluid an hour and 4 kilogram body mass during a day in which temperatures hit 30 degrees.

Comparing the records:

Old Record - Rodney Sutton (King Country, NZ, Jan 31, 2007): First run (5-7am) 158; Second run (8-9.45am) 140; Third run (10.15-Noon) 142; Fourth run (1-2.45pm) 140; Fifth run (3.15-5pm) 141. Total for 9 hours: 721. Average per sheep: 44.94 seconds. Average per hour: 80.11 sheep.

New record - Matt Smith (Cornwall, Eng, July 26, 2016): First run (5-7am) 164; Second run (8-9.45am) 142; Third run (10.15-Noon) 142. Fourth run (1-2.45pm) 141; Fifth run (3.15-5pm) 142. Total for 9 hours: 731. Average per sheep: 44.32 seconds.  Average per hour: 81.22 sheep.

 - Stuff

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