World Crane Championship qualifying round results
A faultless final round clinched the NZ championship for Jamie Coles of Stark Bros Ltd.
Christchurch turned on two stunning days of crisp but fine winter weather for the New Zealand qualifying rounds of the HIAB/NZ Trucks sponsored world crane Championship held at the Wigram airbase.
Under clear blue skies with only the smell of coffee and a waft of BBQ in the air, 30 skilled crane operators battled it out for 1.5 days over the tricky, international standard obstacle course as we searched for six finalists. And befitting this great event, eventual winner, Jamie Coles only surged through in the last round of the final to grab the title.
Hiab’s annual world crane championship final for truck mounted crane operators will be held in Germany at IAA transport expo during September. The competition is open to Hiab distributors from all around the globe, this year 16 countries have selected their best operators to compete. The competition has been running for five years but this is the first year New Zealand has participated.
NZ Trucks sales and marketing manager Guy Avery is thrilled the company could be involved. "We have been Hiab NZ distributor for a couple years now and wanted to give something back to the industry. This seemed like a great way to do it and at the same time give operators more exposure to Hiab cranes."
A Hiab 188E4 HiDuo crane was used for the event (our closest local model in size to the Hiab 192 HiPro that will be used in the final) and operated flawlessly for over 120 rotations of feisty competition.
For this inaugural New Zealand event, contestants travelled from all over the country to compete. The rules of the qualifying rounds required each competitor to manoeuvre the remote-controlled crane successfully around the course in the quickest time with the least penalties. Each competitor was given a practise round then two-timed runs, speed and precision were critical. The tough course frustrated many but ultimately only the six fastest times, after adjustment for penalties would go through to Friday afternoon’s final.
Representation in the final was very even with three representatives each from the North and South islands. The South Island contingent included our winner Jamie Coles, Elysia Dick of Lawrence Transport and Ox (Trevor) MacDowell (Purdue Bros). With North Island representatives, brothers Damien and Brenden Nielsen from Mammoth, top qualifier Regan Dowdall of Crane & Cartage Ltd, the final was set to be a true New Zealand provincial battle.
Lots were drawn for the starting order and with a small tweak to the rules, the judges were looking for consistency in the final with the best average time of the two runs deciding who our champion would be. Whether it was this change, the potential trip to Germany or the Hiab prize pack that did it we are not sure, but for the first time we saw some very nervous operators.
The course was the same and the arena lined with work colleagues, bosses, friends and family, the pressure was obviously ramped up to a whole new level. Despite the common strategy of exercised caution being adopted, contestants who blitzed the course in the preliminary rounds made some uncharacteristic errors and generally slower times were recorded. Regan Dowdall had shown earlier in the day that he was going to be the one to beat and continued to demonstrate his precise control of crane in the final. Regan looked to be headed for victory until the very last run of the day by Jamie Coles.
As the winter shadows lengthened across the course and the air temperature dipped Jamie Coles turned up the heat. With a solid first run on the board, Coles went for it in his last attempt, and the final run of the day. With raucous support from Stark brother’s colleagues, Coles nailed it, fastest time, no penalties and the title of New Zealand champion was his.
Organisers, NZ Trucks should be very pleased with their efforts, a very slick event capped off with the discovery of true champion. Jamie Coles travels to Germany in September to represent New Zealand and must rate as a real chance to upset the international field and bring home the euro 25,000 prize.