IT may have lost the rugby and netball world cups, but New Zealand still holds the world shearing record. The five-year-old record of 405 wethers was broken by New Zealander Grant Smith two weeks ago, when he shore 418 wethers in a nine-hour stint. The three overseeing judges gave Mr Smith an overall quality rating of 16.78 and the fleece weight of the wethers averaged 4.1 kilograms. They rejected one sheep as it was not shorn to the correct quality standard. Mr Smith's plan relied on him catching, shearing and dispatching wethers at the rate of one every 75 seconds or better, first for two hours in the lead up to breakfast, and then in four stints each of 105 minutes' duration. All the while, he had to be conscious of the judges, required under world record conditions to ensure that quality standards were maintained throughout. The first run produced 94 sheep. Mr Smith admitted to being a little nervous before the start, but hit his straps early, with his combs working well (always a major worry, despite the amount of preparation that goes into getting them "up" for the occasion). The 105-minute spells both sides of morning smoko each produced 82 sheep, which sent him to lunch with the target in sight and 10 up on the old record. Then, in the run after lunch, he had a sheep disqualified by the judges < 81 shorn, 80 counted. He churned another 80 out in the final session.