Winkleigh’s newly-crowned world sawing champion Dale Beams will be the sole back-marker for Australia’s richest handicap woodchopping event in Launceston on Saturday.
The veteran and his wife Amanda won the world Jack and Jill 450mm double-handed sawing championship in Devonport on Saturday and Beams is keen to continue his run in the Eric Reece Memorial Thousands 300mm standing block at Invermay.
Beams, the only two-time winner in the event’s 57 years, will start off the 32-second mark in a bid to add to his 1985 and 2008 victories.
This year’s 68-man field includes 14 previous winners chasing the $10,000 in prizemoney. Among the previous winners are last year’s victor Mark Hillman, Zeehan’s Riley Sheehan (2016 winner), Deloraine’s Daniel Gurr (2015), Gowrie Park’s Glen Bakes (2014) and Beams’ son Daniel (2013).
The main challengers include a plethora of axemen on a handicap of 30-second or more, Tasmanian Champion of Champions Kody Steers, former world champion Stephen Foster and multiple world champion Laurence O’Toole Jnr, who will be aiming to emulate his father Laurence O’Toole Snr’s 2012 triumph.
Other accomplished competitors giving up a substantial head start to the front markers include Queensland’s Gerald Youles (28 secs), Launceston’s Andrew Kelly, and former winners Daniel Gurr (Deloraine), Kelly Oakley (Bagdad) and Daniel Beams, all starting off 27 seconds.
The Thousands will be decided over nine heats with three heats for A, B and C-grade axemen. Each division will then cut two semi-finals and a divisional final.
The first three axemen from each divisional final will go into the grand final, while the three fourth-placed divisional finalists will cut-off for the remaining grand final spot for a field of 10.
The program starts at 9.30am with the grand final to take place about 3pm.