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Southland woman shatters world record

A SPRIGHTLY Southland shearer yesterday smashed a women's world record by clipping 661 lambs in nine hours in a woolshed near Gore.

Tipping the scales at just 60kg, standing 1.7m tall and shearing and dispatching the average 34-36kg lambs at an average of less than 50 seconds each, 24-year-old Megan Whitehead successfully chased the previous record of 648 set in 2007 by Waikato shearer Emily Welch.

Welch and fellow female shearing legend Jills Angus Burney, who established the record with 541 in 1989, were among the hundreds who urged the new star on during the day, in temperatures rising close to 30 degrees late in the day.

Perhaps the highest accolades came from world shearing great Sir David Fagan, who watched the event on a live-stream from his home in Te Kuiti.

Reaching for the superlatives, Sir David said the lambs were not small and it was a superb effort for Team Whitehead, with the lady on the board at a young age with the shearing world at her feet.

Whitehead was ahead of the required pace of at least 72 lambs an hour from the start — 153 in the first two hours, then 132, 126, 125.

She hit the goal amid rapturous applause with just under 10 minutes to go to knock-off at 5pm.

There was a huge support crew, headed by father Quentin Whitehead who monitored the clock closely throughout as his daughter worked alone on the Grant Brothers' shearing board at Croydon Bush, just north of Gore.

SHEARING WORLD RECORD: Southland's Megan Whitehead set a new women's world mark for shearing lambs yesterday near Gore — clipping the fleece off 661 during her marathon nine-hour effort. She is pictured with previous record holder Emily Welch. Picture supplied