British shearer to make second world record attempt

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand , July 27, 2021

English shearer Stuart Connor in New Zealand today, preparing to shear more than 867 lambs in nine hours, starting 4pm Wednesday NZST (UK 5am) or 2pm AEST. Image – Huw Condron.

COVID-19 restrictions have cancelled a shearing record attempt planned in New South Wales next weekend, but English shearer Stuart Connor will have another go at the world nine-hour strongwool lamb record in Cornwall from Wednesday afternoon AEST.

The World Sheep Shearing Records Society said an attempt at the world two-stand eight-hour crossbred lamb record on Saturday by shearers Aidan Copp and Cameron Hicks has been abandoned due to COVID-19 travel restrictions between New South Wales, the rest of Australia and New Zealand.

The shearers are now looking at making an attempt in twelve month’s time, the society said.

Meanwhile, Connor will attempt the world nine-hour strongwool lamb shearing record in Cornwall tomorrow from 2pm AEST or 4pm NZST.

The Oxfordshire shearer will attempt to break the record of 867 lambs at Trefrank, St Clether, a farm run by United Kingdom award-winning farmer and former Northland and Hawke’s Bay shearer Matt Smith and his English wife Pippa.

Click here to access the livestream of the event or here to monitor the event on Facebook.

Chief referee Paul Harris will monitor the event via Zoom from his home at Balcairn, near Amberley in North Canterbury, from two cameras at the event – one focused on the shearing board and one on the shorn lambs in the pens. Former Canterbury farmer and now England-based Johnny Fraser will officiate at the scene along with Welsh judges Martyn David and Arwyn Jones.

It will be a long night, with the attempt starting at 4pm NZST, or 5am in the UK, and spanning 12 hours, with breaks for breakfast, morning and afternoon tea and lunch, according to the standard rules set by the World Sheep Shearing Records Society.

Harris will have already tuned in for up to three hours early on Wednesday morning for the pre-record wool-weigh, when a sample shear of 20 lambs from the flock must produce a clip averaging at least 0.9kg per lamb for the attempt to be able to go ahead.

“They’re pretty obnoxious hours,” he said.

With requirements for at least one judge not from the home country of the shearer, refereeing from a distance was first used in a World Sheep Shearing Records Society record attempt when Australian official Mark Baldwin oversaw Southland shearer Megan Whitehead’s women’s record of 661 lambs by Zoom from his office in Tocumwal, NSW, in January.

There was also a test-run about for Connor’s record attempt about 6 weeks ago and Harris says the record attempts would not be happening without the remote judging.

The current men’s record was set also at Trefrank by Irish shearer Ivan Scott, on July 31, 2016, beating by a single lamb the previous record set by Hawke’s Bay shearer Dion King in January 2007 in a King Country woolshed, in New Zealand’s central North Island – the first attempt at which referee Harris officiated. Scott opened with 193 in the first two hours to breakfast – three behind the pace of King’s opening run. He then shore successive 1hr 45min runs of 170, 169, 169 and 166.

Scott averaged 37.37 seconds a lamb or 96.33 lambs every hour – caught, shorn and dispatched – and caught the crucial record-breaking lamb with just seconds to spare.

Tomorrow’s attempt is Connor’s second, after the first in September 2019 fell short, though it still produced a British record of 785 at Fern Hill Farm, in Compton Martin, Somerset.

Connor has dedicated both attempts to daughter Grace, who died at the age of 3 in April 2018 from mitochondrial disease. He and wife Kira working tirelessly to make a difference for other families affected by the disease, with Team Grace helping raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Lily Foundation in Grace’s memory.

Connor shore in New Zealand early last year, before heading back to the UK ahead of the first Covid-19 lockdown in mid-March 2020.

It will be a busy week for Matt and Pippa Smith, who on the following day will stage an agricultural open day on the farm, with proactive trade stands, retail stands and hospitality.

Zoom judging makes record attempts possible

Zoom-enabled judging has helped some world shearing record attempts to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, including for the first time at the successful women’s nine-hour strongwool lamb record by Megan Whitehead on 14 January this year. Ms Whitehead shore 661 lambs to beat the former record by 13 at ‘Craigellachie’, Croydon Bush, Gore, New Zealand. New South Wales judge Mark Baldwin was able to officiate during the event via Zoom from his home.


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