The 59th Golden Shears have started strongly with more than 150 competitors in shearing, woolhandling and woolpressing events in the opening sessions of the three-day annual championships.
With strong and growing support from agricultural training institutions, there were near record entries in the Novice shearing and woolhandling events which later in the day will have the first of more than 20 finals at the championships, held in Masterton's War Memorial Stadium since the inception in 1961.
The Novice shearing attracted 46 entries, there were 28 in the Novice woolhandling, 17 in the Junior woolhandling and 14 in the first woolpressing event, while almost 50 were in the Junior shearing heats also well under way by midday.
With Intermediate shearing and Senior woolhandling heats in the afternoon it was expected that more than 200 people will have competed on the opening day, mainly from New Zealand but also including shearers and woolhandlers from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Canada and Australia.
Golden Shears president Sam Saunders, whose daily duties as "runner" typified commitment an input of those helping the championships tick-over, was enthralled as he reflected on the youth of the competitors, at a time when the industry has been crying-out for more young people to become involved.
"This is brilliant," he said. "It's exactly what we're looking for."
The first-day events include the Golden Shears Life Members Student Shearing Challenge, with competitors from four secondary and tertiary institutions offering agricultural training.
Among the competitors shaping up for a busy day was Masterton teenager Adam Gordon, who was the top qualifier in the Novice shearing heats, and second-to-top qualifier in the Novice woolhandling heats, with semi-finals and possibly finals to follow before late afternoon.
The Goodger brothers, also from Masterton, looked again set to dominate the woolpressing, with Vincent and Jeremy qualifying for tomorrow's semi-final but also shearing alongside each other in the Junior shearing heats.
Brother Jeremy (left) and Vincent Goodger, of Masterton, compete alongside each other in a Junior shearing championships heat on the first morning of the 59th Golden Shears in Masterton, shortly after the wtwo had qualified for the Men's woolpressing semi-finals.
Crowds at the opening sessions of the 59th Golden Shears today in Masterton's War Memorial Stadium, boosted by families of agricultural trainees competing for the first time