YOUNG Australian shearer Ethan Harder’s childhood dream of becoming a world record holder is on the verge of reality with an attempt on the solo Merino ewe record for eight hours in Western Australia tomorrow.
The attempt will take place at A D South & Co’s woolshed at 4639 Gibbs Road, Cordering, about 115km east of Bunbury. It starts at 7.30am with four shearing runs of two hours each, separated by 30-minute for morning and afternoon tea breaks and an hour for lunch.
It won’t be easy for the 20-year-old Harder from Bruce Rock, who, despite his tender years is already well-attuned to setting goals and beating them.
He now faces one of the toughest of them all in the record of 497 set by New Zealand-born Lou Brown near Kojonup, W.A., on April 27 last year.
The 31 year-old Brown achieved two-hour run tallies of 114, 119, 118 and 115 to beat the previous record of 466 set in 2003 by Cartwright Terry, another New Zealander who had moved to Australia to work in the shearing industry.
As in that record, Harder’s big day out will be monitored by four judges appointed by the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, with Saturday’s panel convened by the required non-Australian official, New Zealand records and competition judge Ian Buchanan.
The others are Mike Henderson, of Dongara, WA, Peter Artridge, of Mulengandra, New South Wales, and Ralph Blue, of Yeoval, NSW.
Harder has been challenging the milestones in the woolshed since the day he first shore a sheep, and put away his first 100 in a day at the age of just seven years. He shore his first 200 at the age of 12, put out 300 at 14 years-old and 500 when aged just 17. He went on to achieve a tally of 602 Merino lambs in eight hours at the age of 18.
A big support team is expected in the woolshed where temperatures are likely to soar well past 30 degrees Celsius, with a maximum of 33deg forecast for Collie, less than an hour away. Among the team will be his partner Regina, the mother of the couple’s daughter Leilah born less than three weeks ago.
Preparations have been under way at the Cordering property for several days, and stepped up with this afternoon with a sample shear in front of the judges, at which the wool had to average at least 3.4kg per ewe for the record to be given the go-ahead.
It’s been a busy summer of shearing records with a solo women’s lambshearing record, a multi-stand record by three male shears, and an historic four-stand women’s record set since the first week of December.
Records society secretary Hugh McCarroll, of Tauranga, has also received an application for another women’s record attempt, to be made in England by Marie Prebble, of Canterbury, in Kent.
Her bid is scheduled to take place on August 4 at Trefranck Farm, Cornwall, where brothers and New Zealand shearers Matthew Smith and Rowland set separate solo records for strong wool ewes in 2016 and 2017.