Shear delight as George goes at a real clip

SHEARERS and onlookers lauded the inaugural Speed Shear Competition at Lake Leake Inn as the best they’ve been a part of.

Hundreds showed up cheer on 32 competitors from around the state, Western Australia and South Australia competing in three categories: learner, senior and open.

The event was organised by Lake Leake locals Emily Pennicott and partner Logan Smith, who works for Flood Shearing, Cressy, and also competed.

No stranger to working in shearing sheds herself, Emily also paid tribute to her grandfather Basil Clark, of Stonor House near Oatlands, who passed away on Tuesday night aged 90.

“This is the man who taught me how to throw and skirt a fleece, remove a crutch and sort locks until they were white,” she said. “He was a shearer on the mainland in the Riverina area for many years and always said ‘work to what you would put your name on – if you’re not going to do it properly, don’t do it at all’.

“I was so proud to be able to tell him the Lake Leake Speed Shear was done properly – he took great delight in hearing about it in his final days.”

There were five entries in the learner category, including two females, Mitz Tuialii of Cressy and Ruby Graham of Oatlands, mirroring a growing numbers of women taking to the boards.

The winner was Will Grey of Fingal in a time of 51.76 seconds.

The eventual winner in the senior section was Jye Baldwin of Fingal, a shearer with Rigby Shearing (28.76). Watched by his partner Petrisse Leckie, a wool handling trainer, and his two children, Jye said he was glad that the sheep were even tempered and not jumping around. “When you’re shearing so fast you have to make sure you don’t do anything to upset them – I’ve had a bit of practice over the past 10 years working here and in NSW,” he said.

For his 28 seconds of work Jye took home $1000 – no wonder he’s keen to see more speed shear events on the calendar.

“It was a great competition and I think it makes you a better shearer in the sheds having pushed yourself to the limit.”

In the Open contest some of the seniors had another go and once again the woolly Suffolk Merino first crosses supplied by Alex Clarke’s family at Quorn Hall, were stripped of their fleece in record time.

Shaun Graham of Oatlands competed in the open having watched his daughter Ruby show her style in the learners and Isaac Palmer of Swansea put in a big effort (28.43) but it was George Higgins of Fingal, who shears for the Cressy-based Rob Flood Shearing, who posted the fastest time of the day of 27.27 to take out the open competition and the $1500 prize.

On the back of the Lake Leake event requests have been received to hold more competitions at Triabunna, Oatlands and either Cressy or Longford and a formal committee will be formed.