Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels breaks world record
Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels has broken a world record - shearing 605 ewes in eight hours on Monday.
The previous record holder, Stacey Te Huia, of Te Kuiti, had held the record for 603 sheep since December 2010.
The eight-hour strongwool ewe-shearing record win was held at Argyle Station, near Waikaia, north of Gore.
The 33-year-old has been shearing since he was just 16.
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His father was a shearer so he had been surrounded by the sport his whole life, he said.
"It was just in the blood."
The record attempt was something he had been training for for about three years.
He had sacrificed a lot to be where he was now, he said.
His wife, Ngawai Samuels, had to deal with the brunt of it, he said.
After work, Samuels would go straight to training, have dinner, then be in bed by 10pm.
"She's [his wife] the rock. Without her I probably wouldn't be able to do this."
The lead-up to the day was not the only struggle.
Samuels faced several challenges during his eight-hour shear, including restless sheep and the heat, he said.
"It was hard, very hard," he said.
The ewes were the most difficult he had faced.
They were "very physical," he said.
Throughout the day, Samuels remained close to the current record, but in the last 15 minutes he picked up the pace.
With a good run of sheep in his final run, Samuels caught up to the former record.
The aim was to shear one sheep every 45 seconds.
Hundreds turned out to watch and support the Southland shearer take a crack at the title, including Te Huia.
"I was ahead most of the day but he's catching up," Te Huia said, 15 minutes to the end.
"A lot comes down to the last 15 minutes."
After Samuels' win was announced, Te Huia said he wished him well and was happy for his achievement.
"I think he did really well."
Timekeeper for the day, Darin Forde, said the win was "bloody brilliant".
The sheep were very testy and kicking a lot, he said.
"He's an incredible fella with a big heart ... he made it look easy."
World Sheep Shearing Record Society chairman John Fagan said the record was at the top end of sports endurance.
"These guys that set records are role models for the young ones with their training," he said.
Fagan said Samuels was doing well but the ewes definitely gave him a hard time.
They were combing well but were "very strong", he said.
Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford said the ewes were twisting and turning, which makes shearing difficult on the body.
"He's doing fine, but at moments he's struggling," he said during the shear.
At Te Huia's attempt in 2010, he faced a similar situation with difficult ewes.
They are about 55kg each, he said.
Samuels had 700 ewes picked out of about 13,000 for the record attempt.
The sheep had to have 3kg of wool, so Te Huia said it was best to pick out smaller sheep with longer wool.