WORRIES about a possible December storm in an otherwise warm New Zealand summer has resulted in Canadian shearer Pauline Bolay’s historic world shearing record attempt being brought-forward to tomorrow.
In the first world shearing record bid by any North American shearer, the 33 year-old Bolay, from Fairford, Manitoba, is challenging the women’s solo 8-hours strongwool lamb record of 507, set by New Zealand shearer Kerri-Jo Te Huia in January 2012.
To break the record Bolay will need to average less than 56.8sec per lab, caught, shorn and dispatched. The attempt was originally scheduled for December 10.
Her attempt will take place at Whitford Farms, Waikaretu (between Raglan and Pukekohe), where Bolay saw employer Emily Welch shear a 9-hour record of 648, just a week after the Canadian first arrived in New Zealand in November 2007.
Pauline has been a regular shearing in New Zealand ever since, but has had a particularly big last year-and-a-half, starting with sixth place in the Calgary Shears North American Open Championship final in July 2018.
As the first Canadian in the final — that was subsequently won by New Zealand-based former world champion Gavin Mutch of Scotland — she became the first woman selected to represent Canada at the world championships.
Back in New Zealand earlier this year she was runner-up to Welch in the Golden Shears women’s final in Masterton and placed fifth in the New Zealand Shears women’s final in Te Kuiti.
She then headed to the UK, where she won the novice wool handling at the Devon County Show and a women’s shearing event at the Royal Cornwall Show, before heading to France for the world championships in July. Her best result there was fifth in a supporting event to the All-Nations women’s final.
Crossing the Atlantic almost immediately after the championships, Pauline beat off several male challengers to then become the first woman to win at the Calgary Stampede.
While the big names were missing, it did put her name on the honours board alongside such illustrious previous winners as New Zealand World champions David Fagan and Paul Avery, and 2006 Golden Shears champion Dion King.
Bolay will have some big help for the record attempt tomorrow, set to start at 7am on Saturday and finish at 5pm. Her work will be split into four two-hour runs separated by breaks of 30 minutes for morning and afternoon tea and an hour for lunch.
Welch and husband Sam are both world shearing record holders, and also on hand will be gear expert Ants Bryant, who has helped with several other records, including those in England by New Zealand brothers Matt and Rowland Smith.
About 600 mainly Coopworth lambs will be prepared for the day, from three properties, but primarily that of farmer Tom Mandeno. The senior wool handler will be Sianna Herbert, and a panel of judges is being assembled by the records society, including one from Australia.
Sam Welch said Bolay had shorn at least two tallies over 400 and while a tough day is expected, it was important for the shearer.
“She wanted to give it a go now, but I said why not now.
“It’s not the end of the World if you don’t get it,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise, to get that experience.
“She can certainly get up and go,” he said.
“It’s pretty cool to be turning up here in the same woolshed as Emily’s record, 12 years later.”
A sample shear will take place today to ensure the average wool-weight is over 0.9kg per lamb. Click here to follow Pauline’s progress on the record attempt’s Facebook page.