World Record shear sets scene for the Olympics

Matt Smith shearing during the World Record attempt. Picture: Emily Fleur Photography
Matt Smith shearing during the World Record attempt. Picture: Emily Fleur Photography

Yesterday, champion shearer 32 year old Matt Smith conquered the Nine Hour Ewe World Shearing Record.

Matt set this new world record tally by shearing 731 ewes in nine hours, taking an average of 44 seconds to shear each sheep.

Matt Smith shearing during the World Record attempt. Picture: t Emily Fleur Photography

Matt Smith shearing during the World Record attempt. Picture: t Emily Fleur Photography

His successful record attempt was fully supported by the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB), which views competitive shearing as an important element of highlighting this key industry skill to a wide audience and encouraging the next generation of shearers.

This is the first time a world record of this kind has been attempted both in the UK, and the Northern Hemisphere. The previous Nine Hour Ewe World Shearing Record, which was set in 2007, stood at 721 ewes in nine hours and was held by fellow New Zealander, Rodney Sutton of Porangahau.

A record attempt of this type is a hugely demanding challenge; Matt began shearing at 5am for two hours, followed by four one-and-three-quarter runs, with half hour breaks in between. It took place at Matt’s home farm in St Clether, Launceston, in Cornwall, where he was surrounded by the support of friends and family, as well as sheep producers and fellow shearers from all over the world.

Speaking afterwards a triumphant Matt said: “I am chuffed to bits to have set a new world record. It has not been easy getting here, but all the hard work and preparation has paid off. It’s been a long-time ambition of mine, and this is proof, that if you’re willing to put your body on the line, you can achieve your goals.”

“I am chuffed to bits to have set a new world record. It has not been easy getting here, but all the hard work and preparation has paid off. It’s been a long-time ambition of mine, and this is proof, that if you’re willing to put your body on the line, you can achieve your goals.”

Matt Smith

A milestone for Matt and an achievement for shearing in the UK, the event also supported a nearby charity, St Austell-based Children’s Hospice, Little Harbour.

Originally from New Zealand, Matt settled in the UK three years ago when he married wife, Pippa. They now farm in partnership together on her family’s farm. They run a flock of 1385 breeding ewes, primarily Romney’s with some crossed with the Lleyn, on a New Zealand grass based system.

In order to optimise his chances of success, Matt had to be at the top of his game. He has been preparing for the challenge since last summer following a very strict fitness regime, under the guidance and support of Matt Luxton and Mike Goodman, which then dovetailed with his shearing schedule across the South West.

Commenting on Matt’s milestone, Bedwyr Jones, chairman, BWMB Field Services committee said: “I am delighted for Matt, and on behalf of the British Wool Marketing Board, I would like to congratulate him on what was, without a doubt, a phenomenal task, and is of course a tremendous accomplishment.

Matt Smith at the World Record presentation. Picture: Emily Fleur Photography

Matt Smith at the World Record presentation. Picture: Emily Fleur Photography

“This challenge has taken a lot of preparation, and he has now set a new bench mark for shearers throughout the world. Without a doubt Matt’s success will really help to raise the profile of shearing in the UK and importance of a skill, which is absolutely vital to the sheep industry.”

Matt’s entire working life has been devoted to the sheep shearing industry, and the Nine Hour Ewe World Shearing Record can now be added to his previous world record for the Eight Hour Strong Wool Record, which he set in 2010 at the age of 25. Here he smashed the previous world record by 18, shearing 578 sheep in eight hours. Such is the pressure from others, the title was taken the following year when a new record was set by Stacey Te Huia.

A great inspiration, Matt is keen to encourage the next generation of young shearers, some of whom were involved with this record attempt, it has been an experience they will never forget and acknowledges that the shearing training provided by the BWMB is so important to the industry. The BWMB’s shearing trainers are highly experienced and passionate about their specialist work, both, essential attributes in mentoring young shearers.

“I’d like to thank the British Wool Marketing Board, Heiniger, Cox Agri, ABP, Bond Timber, Mole Valley, Agrimin, Vincent Tractors, Grant Roland, Harper Feeds, NFU and Forget-Me-Not Farm Holidays for their invaluable support in this world record attempt,” adds Matt. “My advice to anyone considering a challenge of this type is that you have to have a goal to aspire to, never give up and always maintain your determination.”

A world record attempt is seen within the industry as the pinnacle, the ultimate challenge. Although not recognised as a sport, shearing competition marathons such as this are considered a world class highpoint, creating a buzz throughout the shearing community.

Matt’s challenge was perfectly timed to coincide with the Olympic Games, which begin next week, the ultimate scene for records to be set, and broken by world-class athletes.