Owen chipping away at top timber titles
WOODCHOPPING: It's an endurance format that tests the mettle of the best timber athletes in the country.
Starting with a Stihl chainsaw and sawing a 40cm hoop pine log, they run over to cut a 32cm log in half underhand.
Running back, the athletes take a crosscut single-buck saw and saw off a log, followed by a 27cm standing block chop for the final discipline.
All of this takes just more than a minute.
Every morning, Grafton competitor Chris Owen wakes at 4am to train in the gym, and chops wood in his home area until late trying to chop off a few seconds from his time.
Owen competed in the Australian trophy of the Stihl Timbersports Championships, which acts as the Australian championship for the endurance format.
From the 16 competitors who are among the best choppers in the nation and world, he qualified for the elimination rounds, winning one in a personal best time before being beaten by Brayden Meyer, the current world champion, in the quarter-finals.
"There's a lot more pressure for this discipline than when we go to a royal show," Owen said.
"There you have 11 days of competition, and there's five royal shows a year, and you'll cut three or four things a day.
"Here you get one opportunity for the discipline. It's all or nothing to do good or wait another 12 months."
Owen said the competition was serious on the day, with $20,000 on offer for the winner of the major events.
"The pressure is fairly well on from the start, and there's pretty good crowds turning up now," Owen said.
The next stop in the Timbersports round will be in Adelaide in August, where competitors will compete in all the individual disciplines.
Owen said he would head to the Sydney Royal Show in four weeks where he was hoping to put a good showing in the world titles.
After that, as co-ordinator for the Grafton Show woodchopping section, they would host the Australian hot saw championship. A hot saw, Owen describes as a motorbike engine modified to a chainsaw, that cuts through a 460mm log three times in six seconds.
"Mine's 350cc, and it's high pressure and lots of power to control," he said.
Some of the top Stihl cutters would be in attendance, including champions Lawrence O'Toole and Brad De Losa to provide a thrilling spectacle for the crowds.
As for his ambition, Owen said he had put everything into his training for the past 18 months, at Anytime Fitness.
"I get up at 4.30am and go to the gym nearly every morning, and at night-time I'll cut blocks in the training arena until 9pm leading into the competition," he said.
"I've been putting the work in and starting to get higher and higher each time; you can see the results from the dedication.
"The next few years, I'm hoping I can achieve top-five and try to make the (national) Chopperoos team.
"You never know what happens if you work hard enough for it."