Thw stage was set for former No 1-ranked senior shearer Lionel Taumata, who finally cracked a win in the Open class as the post-Christmas stage of the 2023-2024 shearing sports season kicked off.
Securing the title at the Duvauchelle A&P Show on Saturday, it was the first Open show win for the Gore-based shearer.
Taumata is in his fifth season in the top grade since a successful path through the lower grades, with 23 wins culminating in the nine wins and 11 other finals placings that made him the top-ranked senior shearer nationwide in 2018-2019.
In Saturday’s win at the Peninsula Duvauchelle Shears, where he won the Senior final in 2017, he was the only shearer to cut a sheep under a minute in the four-man final over 10 sheep each.
He also had the best quality points and won by 1.2 points from runner-up, Pleasant Point contractor and 2023 winner Ant Frew.
Waikaka shearer Brayden Clifford, the No 1-ranked Senior nationwide in 2020-2021, was third, and Shaun Burgess of Rakaia was fourth.
A bonus for Taumata was also winning the show’s Speed Shear, and now, with five Open Speed Shear wins, it further validates his invitation to the New Zealand Rural Games Speed Shear in Palmerston North in March.
The competition season steps up with six shows in three days, starting with the Northern Southland Community Shears (incorporating the national fullwool shearing and woolhandling championships) near Lumsden on Friday January 19.
A&P Show competitions will span the length of the country on Saturday, at Kaikohe, a woolshed near Wairoa, the Golden Bay show at Takaka, and the national crossbred lambs shearing and woolhandling championships at the Winton A&P Show’s Southland Shears.
The Royal New Zealand Horowhenua Show will stage its Horowhenua shearing and woolhandling championships on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan claimed his 59th Open Speed Shear win in Saturday night’s Te Puna Speed Shear at The Point Ale House in Whakamarama, west of Tauranga, where he beat two old hands and former winners.
Otorohanga’s Digger Balme came in second and Jack’s father, shearing legend Sir David Fagan, took third place, in what he said was his first Speed Shear since about 2015, the year he retired from top competition.
Jack shore the winning lamb in 17.28sec, more than a second quicker than the old-stagers.