INVERCARGILL man Bobby Dowling defied expectations to win the world championship single saw title – and set a world record – at the Axemen’s World Championship in Rotorua.
Eight competitors who were all either former world champions, former New Zealand champions or former Australian champions lined up for the championship final, held at the Rotorua A&P Show last month, Southland Otago Axemen’s Association publicity officer Peter Templeton said.
Mr Templeton said Dowling sawed through a 450mm pinus radiata log in 13.83 seconds, using a peg-and-raker saw, beating the previous record of 15.70 seconds.
The previous record was held by bushcraft legend Jason Wynyard, of Auckland, who had won eight world series sawing championships, so this was no mean feat, Mr Templeton said.
Wynyard was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his “services to woodchopping” and was one of the competitors who faced Dowling in the final.
Dowling said he achieved a time of 15.90 seconds in the heats and Wynyard posted a time of 15.85 seconds.
“So I knew he was going to improve by at least half a second, he always steps up, he is an amazing sportsman – but I knew I had room for improvement, too.”
Everything came together in the final, he said.
“It was a bit awkward because I had a really good cut. I thought if anyone beats me they deserve to win. But they had me ranked 12th and everyone was looking down the other end. I looked out and saw a few of the Southland boys, one of them gave me the thumbs up. I thought that must be a good sign. Then people came up and started congratulating me. When they gave the official result, I was really pumped – it was a great feeling.”
Dowling said he was proud to have his name on the Allan Salter Memorial Trophy alongside legends like Wynyard, and winning the trophy had special significance because Allan Salter and the Salter family had helped him early on in his woodchopping career.
Dowling, with partner Dan Minehan, of Awarua, also broke the New Zealand record in the pairs sawing with a time of 12.10 seconds. The previous record was 14.50 seconds. However, another pair got an even faster time, setting the new national mark at 10.90 seconds, he said.
Dowling was awarded $1500 in prize money and plans to compete in the hardwood world championship in Sydney at Easter.