Southern Shears woos NI shearers

Gore gears up for shearing competitions

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013
North Island shearer John Kirkpatrick

HUGE TALLY: North Island shearer John Kirkpatrick sheared 650 sheep in the 8-hour lamb world record shearing attempt near Mossburn last week

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More is being done to encourage overseas and North Island shearers to have a crack at Southland shearing titles, as Gore braces for three days of competitions this week.

Competitions begin with the annual MLT Longford Tavern Tui Speed Shear tomorrow night, followed by the Gore Southern Shears on Friday and Saturday.

In its 17th year, the speed shear has two classes, open and senior, where up to 60 shearers are expected to try to clip their way to the fastest shearer title.

Longford Tavern & Function Centre manager Chris Scoles said the event had attracted crowds of about 400 people and the same was expected this year.

"It's exciting and it's good to watch," he said.

Top North Island shearers such as John Kirkpatrick and David Fagan usually came to the event while down for the Southern Shears, as well as a few younger up-and-coming shearers, he said.

It was a chance for the shearers to pay for their trip by trying their hand at a $3000 cash prize pool, Mr Scoles said.

Each shearer will shear one sheep to qualify, and the top 10 fastest shearers will go on to shear another sheep.

The fastest on the night will win $1500 and the rest will be divided among the top 10 shearers.

Doors open to the Longford Tavern speed shear at 7pm. The event is free to the public.

The event is a lead-up to the Gore Southern Shears on Friday and Saturday.

Gore Southern Shears treasurer Erin Howes said the speed shear was introduced as an extra drawcard for competitors.

About 150 shearers and woolhandlers were expected to compete during the two-day event, she said.

"We're trying to make our show bigger and better."

The speed shear would help, not hinder, the Longford Tavern speed shear event, she said.

"More events made it more worthwhile. We're all trying to work together to get the profile of the sport up."

Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels said he had developed a hunger to compete, especially after setting a world record near Mossburn last week.

Ready to battle at the Longford Tavern speed shear for the first time, Samuels said the world record helped him realise shearing was more than just a job.

He would also compete at the Southern Shears speed shear and shearing open.

Held at the Gore A & P Showgrounds, the Southern Shears will start with the open woolhandling competition, followed by the speed shear on Friday night at the Excelsior rugby clubrooms and open shearing competition on Saturday.

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