Golden Shears officials had to resort to a possible World shearing first in a TMO decision to find a winner in a dramatic speedshear finish in Masterton last night.
The drama came in the last act of the Open Speedshear, with $800 at stake for first prize and ending the first of the three days of the 59th Golden Shears, when Masterton shearer and contractor Paerata Abraham and former World and Golden Shears Open shearing champion Cam Ferguson popped their sheep out and hit their respective stop buttons locked together blow-for-blow in each finishing in a tick over 22 seconds.
But neither Fergsuon's clock nor Abraham's sheep stopped – Ferguson's clock ticking on for another 13 seconds and Abraham's sheep ending its compliance needed to help a shearer complete the job with the necessary speed and quality and leaping off the board in a bid for freedom in the auditorium.
For the first time, and with the would-be fugitive ovine back in custody, frames from the Golden Shears live-streaming were rolled back on the War Memorial Stadium screen to reveal Abraham had hit the button first, completing the job in 22.225sec, Ferguson then being accredited with a time of 22.38sec to take second prize of $400.
Brett Roberts, of Mataura, and Hemi Braddick, of Eketahuna, were placed third and fourth respectively after being beaten in the semi-finals, in which Ferguson posted the night's fastest time of 21.104sec.
Abraham had been top qualifier from the heats to the eight-man quarterfinals.
The Open Speedshear, mirroring dozens of single-sheep contests held around the country each year, attracted 23 competitors, of whom two fell at the first hurdle, their sheep rejected by judges appointed to ensure that while speed was the object the quality was still kept to the highest-possible standard.
The Senior Speedshear also had 23 entries and was won by Connor Puha, of Kimbolton, shearing his final sheep in 26.593sec, outgunning Winton shearer Jade Maguire Ratima by just 0.22sec. Masterton-based Sean Gouk was third and Brandon Maguire Ratima was fourth.
The speedshear was, however, only a prelude to the main event, with the Golden Shears Open and Senior championship heats being held throughout today, along with Open woolhandling heats, together involving about 150 entries taking the number of competitors at the championships close to 400.
Close to events are being decided at the championships, including transtasman tests in woolhandling tonight and shearing tomorrow, when most of the individual titles will be decided.