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Gore shearer Megan Whitehead has smashed the women's world shearing record.
The Southlander, who started the world record attempt at 5am today, clipped 661 lambs in nine hours in a woolshed near Gore.
The 24-year-old was surrounded by supporters in temperatures nearing 30 degrees Celsius late in the day.
Watched by five World Sheep Shearing Records Society judges, Whitehead bettered the women’s solo nine-hours strongwool lamb shearing record of 648 set by Waikato shearer Emily Welch in November 2007.
The event was held at a woolshed at Croydon Bush.
The 60kg Whitehead was in athletic form, as she handled lambs weighing 34-36kg in a rate of under 50 seconds each, said Doug Laing, of Shearing Sports New Zealand.
A large crew was helping around the shed, including her father Quentin Whitehead, monitoring the clock near his daughter’s side, and Southand shearing legend and multiple New Zealand representative Nathan Stratford, who was looking after her gear.
Welch and fellow female shearing great Jills Angus Burney, who established the record with 541 in 1989, were among the hundreds who urged the new star on during the day.
But perhaps the highest accolades came from one who wasn’t there - world shearing great Sir David Fagan, who watched the live-stream at his home in Te Kuiti. He said the lambs weren’t small and it was a superb effort for Team Whitehead.
Sir David was the first male to shear over 700 lambs in an official World Shearing Records Society nine-hour record - when he shore 748 in 1985 and adding over 100 to a previous men’s record of 626. He predicted Whitehead would one day be the first woman to shear more than 700.
With a new record imminent this afternoon, Sir David said: “She’s going to break it. And if anyone’s going to break it again, it’ll be her.”
Having exposed her potential when shearing 608 during a four-stand women’s record in January last year, Whitehead was today ahead of the required pace of at least 72 an hour from the start, shearing 153 in the first two hours from 5am to breakfast - already nine ahead of the 144 with which Welch opened her big day 13 years ago.
She then backed it up with 1hr 45min runs including 132, 126, 125 and 125, hitting the goal amid applause about with just under 10 minutes to go to knock-off at 5pm.
The judges - one watching from Australia via AVL – yesterday afternoon gave the green light for the attempt to go ahead when a sample shear of 20 lambs produced 21kg of wool, comfortably over the required minimum of 0.9kg per lamb.