Twenty-six year old Craig Owen from Grafton will chop in the first ever series at the V8 Supercars Supersprint at Sydney’s Motorsport Park this weekend. Source: The Daily Examiner
Mr Owen will be among 10 elite competitors including former team world champion Dale Ryan from Katoomba and current world champion of champions Brad De Losa of Bowenfels.
The NSW heat is the fourth and final leg ahead of the finals at Bathurst on October 8-11.
“The top two go through to the final and third and fourth have to go through a wildcard qualifier at the final at the V8 Supercars in Bathurst,” Mr Owen said.
“The event brings together competitors with different backgrounds and strengths together, as they face off across six different disciplines – hot saw, single buck, standing block chop, stock saw, underhand chop and springboard chop.
“There’s an overall pointscore from all six disciplines.
“I currently hold the Australian 15-inch standing block title. I’m strong in some disciplines but others might let me down.
“I’ve just completed hotsaw training in Sydney and feel fairly confident with it. Only three people in the series who have used them before.
“I’ve been focusing on my weaker disciplines and trying to catch them up a bit. I’ve also been swimming in the mornings for cardio and weights for strength.”
Mr Owen comes = off eight days of competing at the Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane, including the 13-inch Australian titles.
“I cut sixth,” he said. “I was hoping to go a bit better, but the axe was bent due to a limb in the heats.”
Owen comes from a family with more than 60 years involvement in the sport. The fourth generation woodchopper is determined to progress through this weekend and the finals, where the Australian team will be selected to defend its world title at Poland in November.
“Stihl Timbersports Australia want to send a team of Australian axemen and sawyers over to the world titles,” he said.
“The strongest four countries in the world would be Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
“We’re looking to try and put our best team forward and beat all those other countries again. I wasn’t in that side last year but I chop against a lot of the people who were in it.
“This is a chance for me to go through and try and qualify for that team. “They also pick an individual competitor from each country who will have to do six disciplines.”
Mr Owen is the handicapper for the North Coast Axemen’s Association and recently ran a successful event at the Glenreagh Timber Festival.
“I keep all the records up to date, draw up heats, run the events and make sure everything runs smoothly at the woodchop events on the North Coast,” he said.
In the first event on the day Owen participated in a handicap event, which saw him start from a time penalty of 81 seconds. In the blink of an eye his wood was chopped while others continue to labour away with their axe.
“For every $50 of prizemoney won you go back a second and every two times you chop and don’t win you come go up a second. So it gives all the competitors, no matter what age whether they’re just beginning, a veteran or top athletes in an equal chance to compete,” he said.