The world ploughing championship was held in Baudette, Minnesota, USA 30th and 31st August.
The Northern Ireland competitors were, Andrew Gill from Saintfield, conventional ploughman and James Coulter from Dromore, Co Down, reversible ploughman.
The other team members were Adrian Jamison, World Board Member, David Gill judge and Ronald Coulter BEM team coach.
Andrew was able to borrow a tractor and plough from friends in Minnesota while James shipped his plough to Grand Valley Ontario. Suitable tractors for use with James’ plough are scarce in North America and he was pleased to get a tractor the same as he uses at home from Dyarrel Hoststruser.
The coach travelled to Ontario to prepare the tractor for the Championship. The tractor and plough were transported to Baudette by family friend Brian Davenport some one thousand miles away.
There was one week’s unofficial practice before the official week of the Championship, during which Andrew and James spent valuable time getting used to their equipment.
In spite of fact this was both competitors first World Championship they soon were producing quality workmanship and were attracting a lot of attention.
A lot of hard work went into the pre practice week with Andrew and James producing plot after plot of excellent work.
For the official week we were accommodated in resorts on the shore of the Lake of the Woods, a lake which covers 1679 square miles and has 14632 islands. Official practice continued from Monday to Thursday and both competitors continued to improve and were well prepared for the competition.
Friday was the stubble competition. Andrew had drawn the worst plot in his section and was disappointed with the plot, however he handled it exceptionally well and achieved third place.
James however was fortunate with the plot he had drawn and ploughed a good plot. However a couple of technical errors cost him dear and he was disappointed with tenth place.
Saturday was the grassland competition and Andrew again was unlucky with the draw in his section and again excelled in a difficult plot and finished in fourth place. James was again fortunate with his plot and produced the performance of his life and it was no surprise to achieve third place.
At the Gala dinner and prize giving Andrew and James were awarded their bronze medals and also were both awarded the trophies for the highest placed first time ploughmen. In the overall standings Andrew finished fourth overall and James fifth overall.
The American ploughing organisation proved to be excellent hosts and it was good to meet old friends and make some new ones.
Andrew and James greatly appreciate all the practical and financial help given to them without which this trip would not have been possible.