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Kaitangata's Amber Casserly said while junior competitors were notching upwards of 70 (penalty) points, the very best among the 30-odd entries in the woolhandling were making it difficult for her and her fellow judges.
"You've really got to look," she said.
"In the open we've got master woolhandlers.
"They're just amazing - and represent the country - they know exactly what they're doing.
"I reckon we've got some of the world's best competitors here in New Zealand."
He had hoped for about 50 woolhandling entries, but lower entries "must be a sign of the times".
Speed shearing was held last night at Waimate's A&P Shears Pavilion, which with a new $30,000 media centre, livestreamed the events on Facebook and a big screen indoors.
At 7.30am today shearing heats began; woolhanding finals were expected to start at 1.30pm, shearing finals at 4.30pm, and the open machine final at 8.25pm.
The industry, as well as the sport, was competitive every day, Mr White said.
Shearers always raced the person next to them, or just tried to improve their own personal best tally.
But the sport remained true to its roots.
"It hasn't really changed - the gear's better than it was," he said.
"It's still really traditional.
"The style is changing ... a wee bit. But basically it's the same that it was 100 years ago."