Owen the new national woodchop champ
GRAFTON woodchopper Chris Owen is Australia's new 375mm standing block champion, but that is only the beginning for him this year as he trains for more woodchopping glory.
Owen won the title at the Brunswick Heads Woodchop Carnival last week.
"Next weekend I'm heading to La Trobe for the 300mm elimination championship," Owen said.
Owen hopes to break the 50-year-old record of 13.7 seconds to win a purse of $50,000.
The winner of the event is also awarded $8000.
Afterwards, Owen will focus on the 375mm world title at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
"I'm chasing a major sponsor and heading to the world titles in Sydney at the Royal Easter Show. There will be 32 axemen, and a strong contingent from New Zealand," he said.
Owen will then compete in the NSW Stihl Timbersports Series, which takes the top six woodchoppers in their discipline in the state on a tour through to Eastern Creek, Bathurst and Homebush.
"I will also compete in a couple of relays. We take on the New Zealand South Island and Queensland teams," he said.
At the Brunswick Heads Woodchop Carnival, Owen faced rival and friend Brad de Losa.
"It felt pretty good to win. We are good mates and always cut against each other," Owen said.
"I've come close to beating him all year and finally got him at Brunswick Heads."
Owen cut through his log in 53 seconds with de Losa finishing at 60 seconds.
"I cut quite well and my wood was quite clear. Brad had to stop once or twice to clear a chip and that let me get ahead.
"It was neck and neck at the start but I just kept going through it.
"The record for 375mm is 33 seconds, but the wood was a lot softer that year."
Owen is a third-generation woodchopper and is grandson to woodchop notable Max Kroehnert.
"There is a good social aspect to it. You meet a lot of social people," Owen said.
"It takes the best part of the day when you go to a chop.
"At the Grafton Show we get up to 400 people come watch the wood chop."
Owen started competing at 12. He is now 25.
In the lead-up to a major woodchopping event he trains three times a week at the back of his grandfather's house.
"Out the back of my granddad's place there is a training arena.
"I also do the swimming for cardio and endurance."
A good competing axe can cost $750 and Owen will take up to 12 axes to a competition.
"The main brand is Tuatahi, from New Zealand.
"The head is eight inches wide by eight inches long.
"They're very thin and have a 13 to 16 degree bevel.
"They're also very sharp, you can shave with them."
Australian title 375mm standing block
Two Grafton Show championships
Country show champion at Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Macksville, Casino and Lismore
Represented Australia in under-21 team
Six-time NSW representative
Won B-grade championship in Brisbane