It was second time lucky for the winner of the 2021 CCNZ CablePrice Canterbury Westland Excavator Operator Competition. Gareth Butcher – a Christchurch local – took top honour at this year’s regional championships, held at Road Metals Quarry on 2 October.
Competing in the Experienced Class, he finished one ranking higher than his second placing last year. He saw off strong performances from Tim Tihema of Isaac Construction, who finished second, and Ben Beazley from Schick Civil Construction who finished third.
Competitors took on a wide range of practical challenges, as well as crowd-pleasing tests of precision, such as the Slam Dunk event, where contestants had to perform a tricky manoeuvre by slam dunking a basketball into a large concrete pipe using their excavator buckets.
“It was great to walk away with the title this year,” Mr Butcher said. “The Slam Dunk event was one of the trickiest tasks – I mucked it up when I competed in the regionals last year, so I was stoked to get it done this time round.”
Mr Butcher has worked for Texco New Zealand for more than 20 years, having got into excavating at around 20 years old. In his day to day, he works on a large variety of sites, from civil to commercial, which has given him a brilliant range of skills.
“I really enjoy machinery, so excavator operating is a natural fit for me.”
The competition also saw events for the Novice Class group and Truck Weight. In the Novice Class event, podium places went to William Mcilwrick from Fulton Hogan who took first place, followed by Ethan Stanbury from Johnston Civil in second, and Dan Rae from Fulton Hogan in third. Andy Waghorn from Johnston Civil was the winner of the Truck Weight event.
Mr Butcher will now represent Canterbury Westland at the 2022 CCNZ CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition, taking place next year from 17 to 19 March at Central District Field Days, Manfeild Park, Feilding.
Photo: Contestants who took out first, second and third place in the various categories of this year's competition. Gareth Butcher (third from left) will represent Canterbury Westland at the national finals next year.
Check out the action here (thanks to Hamish Race of Schick Civil Construction for the video):