A trio of local woodchoppers is hoping to see the chips fly when they compete at this weekend’s Sydney Royal Easter Show. Richard Devine and his daughter Emily, both from Allendale East and Naracoorte’s Kahu Woolley will compete across a host of categories at the event, which is the world’s most prestigious woodchop competition.
They will be joined by more than 100 competitors, with numbers down 50% on previous years due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions. The event usually attracts entries from across the globe, however many are unable to attend given international border bans.
Ms Devine, 23, will compete in the ladies underhand championship, as well as the Jack and Jill championship with Mr Woolley. Mr Woolley, 39, will take on the single handed sawing and the double handed sawing, as well as the standing block championship. He is currently ranked second in the world for single handed sawing.
Mr Devine, 57, will contest the open underhand and standing block events. The Devine family is no stranger to woodchopping competition, with the family’s late patriarch Ken Devine a decorated axeman still holding the record for the 300mm underhand – at a blistering 13 seconds flat.
“We do not get together often to train, we do a lot of individual work,” Mr Devine said. “But we try to train as a group before the Sydney show. “Most competitions were cancelled last year, there’s been nothing happening at all.”
Mr Woolley agreed, saying there had been a “long lay off”. “I try and chop as much as I can and go to the gym to supplement it,” he said. “There’s nothing like competing to stay fit though.”
Mr Woolley said he was looking forward to the Sydney competition, despite the lack of international competitors. “Realistically the world’s best are from New Zealand and Australia, although there are great competitors from Canada, the US and Spain, so it will be a bit different this year,” he said.
Ms Devine said she had been hitting the gym in readiness for the competition. “I have had amazing help from Southside Gym, they have really helped me concentrate on getting into peak competition form,” she said. “We are all looking forward to getting to Sydney and giving it our absolute best.”