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Jack & Jill Chopping down the Competition

Posted on : 28 March 2018

Written by: Nicola Dawson

The biggest and toughest Woodchopping & Sawing Competition in the world attracts men and women from all over to the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

They don’t call it the Wimbledon of Woodchop for no reason!

In its one hundred and nineteenth year, the annual Competition has attracted hundreds of competitors to fight for the 5 world titles up for grabs, and $250,000 worth of prize money – and they take it very seriously.

Competitors travel from New Zealand, Canada, Wales, Czech Republic, Switzerland and all over Australia for the event, making it the largest woodchopping & sawing competition in the world.

Over the eleven days of competition events include Single Handed Sawing, Double Handed Sawing, underhand events, and the Jack & Jill - involving male and female competitors, as a team of 2, sawing through a log.

Typically, the Jack & Jill teams come together from the same state or country, but a husband and wife duo from Mount Maunanui, New Zealand believe that their connection makes them the perfect team.

With years of experience competing at the Sydney Royal Easter Show under their belts, Darcell Apelu and Charles Hall enjoy the annual trip to Australia.

“For us, it’s our time together when we travel to shows”, says Darcell. “We’re quite lucky we gel together quite well.”

In their 12 years competing at Sydney Royal, Darcell and Charles have come close to taking out the championship, but find there is as much fun in chasing the title as there could be in winning.

Although the two trained for months in preparation for the Jack & Jill event, they find the Australian hardwood competitions harder to prepare for because of the type of wood used, Silvertop Ash.

“We have some really nice shows back home, but the wood is totally different”, says Darcell.

“We cut a lot softer wood in New Zealand so you have to be really prepared to have the right gear.”

Darcell says she enjoys competing in the Jack and Jill event, and would love to see an increase in women in the individual events, similar to the growing female leagues in other sports like soccer and AFL in recent years.

Female competitor Peg Engasser from the USA took on the Jack & Jill this year with fellow American Matt Slingerland. She says the key to increasing female participation is getting younger generations involved in order to grow the sport. 

“Young people are certainly going to keep this sport going, but it’s a cool sport where you can come into it when you’re older too”, says Peg.

 Peg and Matt took out fourth place in the Jack & Jill Championship Final in a close race against teams from across Australia. According to Peg, it’s the “competitive comradery” that keeps her coming back to Sydney each year.

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