Lowe's epic contest with Rattray
A six-year reign ended in the premier event of the Blenheim Axemen's Club's annual meet at the Marlborough A&P Show on Saturday when Tasmanian Joe Rattray took out the Geoff Hocquard Memorial Underhand Championship.
In a closely fought race to chop the 375mm block in half, Rattray edged out six-time defending champion Adam Lowe, of West Coast, and New South Welshman Phil Waters by less than a second to claim major honours.
Lowe and Waters could not be separated for second, while Picton's Willie Abel put in a top effort to come home fourth.
The other highlight of the meet was a thrilling teams race between a South Island Invitational side and the visiting NSW axemen.
NSW had the early lead after the opening underhand chop but the South Island took over during the first standing chop and held that advantage through the single and double saw legs. NSW regained parity during the second underhand leg and the teams were neck and neck throughout the final standing chop.
Last South Island axeman Daniel Gilsenan got the final blow in just before his NSW counterpart.
However, Gilsenan's block did not quite sever cleanly, leaving a piece to finish, and NSW snuck in to steal the narrowest of victories.
Meanwhile, there was success for the small contingent of Marlborough axemen competing at the meet. Along with his fourth place in the Geoff Hocquard Memorial Championship, Abel bagged fourth in the single saw. In the 250mm standing chop, Geoffrey Hocquard came out on top ahead of two NSW competitors.
Abel, Hocquard and Robbie Brownlee were Marlborough's three representatives in the South Island team, which also included Gilsenan, Lowe, John Aitken, of West Coast, and Rhys Horncastle, of Nelson.
250mm standing chop: Geoffrey Hocquard (Blen) 15 second handicap 1, Graeme Love (NSW) 14secs 2, Anthony Richards (NSW) 13secs 3, Charlie Morgan (Sth Canty) 8secs 4.
300mm underhand chop: Charlie Morgan (Sth Canty) 8secs 1, Kyle Hedley (Nelson) 5secs 2, Ray Harraway (Canty) 18secs 3, Rhys Horncastle (Nelson) 18secs 4.
275mm standing chop: Phil May (NSW) 9secs 1, Phil Waters (NSW) 20secs 2=, Anthony Richards (NSW) 15secs 2=, Charlie Morgan (Sth Canty) 10secs 4.
325mm underhand chop: Charlie Morgan (Sth Canty) 9secs 1, John Aitken (West Coast) 20secs 2, Graeme Love (NSW) 24secs 3, Brent Smith (NSW) 22secs 4.
375mm underhand, Geoff Hocquard Memorial Championship: Joe Rattray (Tasmania) 3secs 1, Adam Lowe (WC) 3 secs 2=, Phil Waters (NSW) 3secs 2=, Willie Abel (Picton) 3 secs 4, Damien Hopkins (NSW) 3 secs 5.
Double saw: Charlie Morgan (Sth Canty) & Dave Balderstone (Canty) 7secs 1, Adam Lowe & John Aitken (WC) 12 secs 2, Rhys Horncastle & Steve Winter (Nelson) 5secs 3, Brent Smith & Phil Waters (NSW) 9secs 4.
Single saw: Adam Lowe (WC) 12secs 1, Graeme Love (NSW) 5secs 2, Daniel Gilsenan (WC) 9secs 3, Willie Abel (Picton) 9secs 4.
The Marlborough Express