Meet the Smith family; Matt, Doug and Rowland. Like many other brothers, these guys have a lot in common. They all took to sheep shearing from a young age and continue to do so now as a profession and sport. But the most impressive trait they all share, that not many other siblings can say they do, is world records!
And we were lucky enough to witness one of these happen as the youngest, Rowland Smith took on the world solo eight-hour strongwool ewe shearing record.
We were first introduced to the world of competitive sheep shearing last year as Matt came to us for an Advanced Sweat Test ahead of his nine hour world record attempt - which he smashed by the way, shearing 731 ewes to be exact! So, when Rowly got in touch about his eight hour record attempt, we were only too happy to assist in his hydration strategy alongside coaches Michael Goodman and Matt Luxton of Matt Luxton Health and Fitness.
Being brothers and therefore sharing the same DNA, the strategy was very similar but there had been learnings from Matt’s training last year. At the beginning, Matt was losing 8 kilos of sweat in a working day but by the time the record came around and Matt’s hydration plan had been fully implemented, that had dropped to 2 kilos. The aim was to replicate this success, if not better it, for Rowly.
The serious work started for Rowly in February after he decided he’d take on the challenge at the end of 2016. Being based in New Zealand with his trainers over here in England, discipline was paramount. And Rowly didn’t let himself down. He continued to work 8 hour days, getting up at 5am to fit in a minimum of 3 sessions a week with one rest day.
Being an already incredibly fit individual, Mike Goodman told us how these sessions focused on strength endurance, starting with 6 minute exercise rotations, gradually increasing to 20 minutes as the months went on. They anticipated that Rowly would be burning 800 calories every hour in the record attempt so he had to be at the peak of his fitness. And, as for diet, it was all about simple protein, complex carbs and good quality fats.
In addition to training and work life, Rowly shore in more than half the 63 Open shearing competitions that were held throughout New Zealand in the space of six months from October to April, reaching 30 finals and winning 26.
He was so ready for this challenge!
On July 24th, Rowly took to the stage at Matt’s farm in St.Clether, Cornwall in front of an international panel of judges from New Zealand, South Africa and Wales ready to beat the current record of 605. Supported by British Wool and 57 volunteers, the day consisted of four 2 hour runs with three breaks, which were only two half hour breaks and one hour for lunch – pretty intense! To stay on track, Rowly had to shear a sheep every 47 seconds. Every 47 seconds.
The result… 644 ewes… A NEW WORLD RECORD!
Rowly actually ended up averaging a sheep every 44.72 seconds. That involves everything from the catch, shorn and dispatch of the sheep, as the actual shearing time was regularly under 35 seconds. For those of you like us that are still pretty new to that sport, this means he nailed it!
And from a hydration point of view, Mike told us that Rowly's weight loss over the day was only 1.4kg. This indicates that he did a good job in balancing fluid intake with sweat losses to keep the level of dehydration he suffered under control. i.e. his personalised hydration plan worked well on the day. This would have been much harder (if not impossible) to do by drinking only plain water as he would have either peed a lot of the fluid out, or risked diluting his blood and suffering from hyponatremia.
It’s unbelievable the physical ability needed to sheer sheep, let alone break world records doing it.
Rowly told us that on an average working day, he’d be drinking 8 litres of water, so knowing he was using the right hydration products enables him to perform to his full potential in not only records, but competitions and day to day work. As he put it, ‘you can just slog away and not have to worry about getting tired or cramp.’
This record-breaking family are unstoppable. And that is only proven by the fact that, two days after his world record, Rowland represented his country alongside teammate John Kirkpatrick in the CP Wool UK Tour’s four-match series against Wales.
We’re BAAAA – hind you all the way Rowly!