Lumberjack goes back-to-back

Robert Dowling has once again sawed to success winning back-to back with Jinaya Niass in the Sydney Royal Easter Show Jack and Jill Competition.

In this competition, a male and female compete together using a six-foot-long crosscut saw with a handle on each end to saw back and forth through a 15-inch log.

The Sydney Royal Easter Show can see a million people walk through the gates in 12 days with spectators filling the custom-built stadium seating to watch the premier event.

Dowling has won the competition four years in a row including back-to-back wins in 2018 and 19 with partner Raewyn Windley.

He joins a list of very few competitors who have won four years in a row with the likes of big-name David Foster and New Zealand’s Jason Winyard.

Dowling and Niass had a “fantastic cut” in the heat, almost breaking the show record.

The woodchopping winners were not as fast in the final as they were in the heat, with Niass slipping partway through the cut but managing to right herself for the pair to come away with a convincing win in a time of 7.8 seconds.

Dowling and Niass have only ever sawed together twice, both at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, with Dowling usually sawing with Windley and as he has done for the last 20 years, but COVID-19 meant she could not attend the big event.

He has competed in woodchopping since he was eight years old, with his family going back four generations in the sport as mainly administrators.

It was his father who started getting competitive in a small way, with Dowling the first to compete in serious competitions after watching his dad and brother compete from a young age.

Dowling’s father also introduced him to a unique technique of woodchopping which relies more on speed and running the saw light rather than the usual method of sawing heavy and slow.

Dowling attributes this technique to his recent win.

“The method translates very well to sawing with a female partner because when you keep the saw light it makes it easier for them to transfer their power through as well,” he said.

“Rather than trying to maximise how much wood you move with each stroke, you focus on keeping the saw moving at a high pace and allowing the saw to do the cutting rather than trying to make it cut.”

Dowling said he was ‘stoked’ to hold onto the title for the fourth year in a row.

“It would have been nice to do better in the two world titles, but I had a bad run with the logs I drew which is just how chopping goes,” he said.

“It is good to be able to hold onto the legacy and keep that going. I pride myself in being able to adapt to my sawing partners and work to suit their styles rather than make them conform to mine.

“I have been lucky to have really great sawing partners in Raewyn and Jinaya.

“I am hoping to make it five years in a row, with my friend Raewyn eager to make it over from New Zealand to compete.”

Dowling is no stranger to success at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, winning the Triple Crown at Sydney in 2019 by taking out all three sawing titles – the single handed sawing world title, double handed sawing world title and the Jack and Jill championship.

2019 was a peak year for Dowling, who was the only person ever to win every major sawing championship in Australia when he went on to win at the Brisbane Show, the Royal Adelaide Show and the Royal Melbourne Show Woodchop Championships.

He has eight world titles and a world record for single handed sawing an 18-inch Pinus radiata log, cutting a 15-year-old record from 14.7 to 12.83 seconds in 2018.

Dowling said he was pleased to be able to hold onto the Jack and Jill championship this year despite minimal training.

“2019 was my peak year and I was looking forward to competing in 2020,” he said.

“Then COVID-19 came along so most of the competitions I usually compete in – in Western Victoria and South Australia – have been cancelled.

“I have not had any major competitions since Christmas 2019 apart from the Sydney Royal Show in 2021.

“It has been tough because I could not gauge how I was going compared to other competitors.

“There has still been quite a few competitions in Queensland, New South Wales and eastern Victoria, so most participants have been able to compete fairly regularly.

“I ended up putting on some weight during COVID-19 but I have put in some hard work over the last six months at Dwyer’s Boxing Club, dropping 30kgs which has helped give me motivation to get back to woodchopping this year.

“I am looking forward to getting back into competing and will start training again soon.”

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