(Reuters) - The World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships kicked off in New Zealand on Wednesday with hundreds of competitors from around the world.
Held for the first time on the country’s South Island in Invercargill, the championships see people competing in six categories including traditional blade shearing, machine shearing and wool handling.
“Never before have we had a venue like this with so much seating, so big with the facilities around it, with corporate boxes and it’s pretty, pretty amazing,” said New Zealand shearer David Fagan.
New Zealand are the favorite in many of the events, with nations like Japan trying to get on the scoreboard.
“We have only ten thousand, fifteen thousand sheep, but we still have to shear them, so we started running shearing courses,” said Japanese competitor Shun Oishi.
On the second day of this year’s competition, Scottish contestant Gavin Mutch was one of four to shear five sheep under six minutes, maintaining his number one seeding ahead of the second round on Friday.
Shearers work on a points system where speed and the state of the sheep after shearing go towards the final score.
“It’s the lowest combination so that the fastest, cleanest shearer will come to the top at the end of the competition,” explained Welsh commentator Huw Condron.
Competitors will work their way through numerous rounds, before the finals on Saturday night.
The World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships have been held every two to four years since 1977.
Reporting and writing by Reuters Television; editing by Sudipto Ganguly