The weekends of practicing in the woolshed paid off for 13-year-old Ahuroa shearer Gus Berger, when he took third place in the novice category at the 59th Golden Shears championships in Masterton.
Out of the 400 competitive shearers at the event, Gus was the youngest to place in a final.
Gus started shearing on the family farm with his Dad two years ago.
He quickly realised that it was the sport for him after trying his hand in various regional A&P shows.
It is the third year that the national Golden Shears has included a novice category competition and Gus decided it would be a good experience to contest it.
“There was a great atmosphere and it was amazing competing against shearers at all different levels who have left school and are doing it full time,” he says.
Though Gus took longer to shear than others in his category, he ended up ahead in points because of the exceptionally clean shave of his sheep.
Competitive shearing judge Neil Sidwell says kids today generally don’t know how to shear the head and back of a sheep, but he couldn’t fault Gus.
“By the time some of the novices were onto the second half of their sheep, Gus had shorn two and they were clean as a whistle, which you don’t even see in the level above novice,” he says.
“Gus will go a long way, and I expect he will be even better than his old man when he reaches the senior level.”
Competitors are classed in the novice category if they shear 60 sheep or less in a day. Gus is now capable of shearing over 100 in a day and expects to advance to the junior level of the championship next season.
Gus says he would recommend shearing as a sport to others his age.
After seeing him have a go, his mates are now practicing and competing with him at weekends.
RESULTS: Golden Shears Novice final (two-second shear sheep): 1. Adam Gordon (Masterton) 5min 12.475sec, 17.124pts. 2. Taylor Lock (Weber) 7min 34.495sec, 31.225pts, 3. Gus Berger (Ahuroa) 10min 12.112sec, 37.106pts. 4. Rennee Biggs (Mangamahu) 7min 41.97sec, 39.099pts. 5. Alice Watson (Blenheim) 8min 39.955sec, 40.498pts.