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Featherston operator takes regional excavator title

28 Feb 2023


Featherston’s Corey Olson claimed his first Civil Contractors New Zealand Wellington Wairarapa CablePrice National Excavator Operator Competition Region championship title, finishing victorious over a field of 14 at Brewtown in Upper Hutt on 25 February.

Olson previously competed in the 2021 competition, finishing in down the ranks due to ‘nerves’. But this time his polished all-round skillset shone through, and he was consistent across the challenges, even acing the coveted ‘egg challenge’, where competitors must pick up a fragile egg and place it on top of a road cone without breaking it.

“It definitely went a lot better this time,” said Olson. “If you make little mistakes, it gets in your stomach and it’s tough to come back. But this time it felt good. I got the egg, so I’m absolutely stoked with that.”

Upper Hutt was Olson’s home-town growing up, and he started out bulk earthmoving for the construction and maintenance of golf courses across the region, including Royal Wellington and Boulcott, before plying his trade on courses further afield on scenic golf courses in locations across Queenstown, Christchurch and Auckland.

But Wellington’s call drew him back home after four and a half years of golf course construction, and he honed his skills well across a wide range of projects, first on retaining walls and piling jobs, then on skilled pipeline and drainage construction projects.

He said he was looking forward to the national finals at Central Districts Field Days from 16-18 March, and despite 13 years behind the controls, he would be asking for tips from past regional champion Myles Carson, part of the Carson family that founded the business Olson currently works for, E Carson & Sons.

“[Nationals] should be good fun, I’ve never done anything like it before. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Runner-up at this year's regional competition was Bronson Jones from Bryce O’Sullivan Contracting (BOSCO), with Alex Boon of Ultra Contracting in third.

Previous Wellington Wairarapa Regional Champion Ben Jones, who is a site foreman for Action Civil, wished Olson well for nationals. 

Always a strong contender, Jones placed third in the 2021 national final, but missed out this year thanks to an early start on the course and a missed morning coffee.

“I was one of the first on the course this morning. I’m not sure I’d quite woken up at that stage. It didn’t go as planned, but it was still good fun.”

Fellow competitor Jack Peke, also of Action Civil, said the pressure was amplified due to the crowd of hundreds and the tight competition course.

“It’s a bit of a tight setup. And working in a tight area with more obstacles requires good sense as an operator. You have to know your surroundings and keep complacency at bay.

“It’s a different environment with a big crowd”, said Peke. “This is an event that comes with a time limit, and you can feel the expectation of everyone that’s watching. It’s like being a rugby player – you have to live up to the expectations of the crowd as well as your own.”

This year’s Tudor Distributors Barrel Filling Contest was a dead heat, with the past champion team from Daniel Renshaw Drainage pipped at the post by the team from BOSCO, despite demanding ‘a recount’ from officials due to the close finish.

Competition organiser Eddie Carson said this year’s event and change of competition venue from the Upper Hutt Summer Carnival to Brewtown had been “really good”. 

“We got the ideal site, with just a bit of basecourse down before the team from Rapid Earthworks lays the new carpark. It was a really good setup.”

He thanked his volunteer judging panel and Branch Secretary Laura Hae Hae for their roles in making the competition happen, and the event’s Platinum Sponsor, CablePrice for supporting the event for supplying the Hitachi excavators used throughout the competition. Special mention was given to Humes for catering for the day.

National sponsors include: CablePrice, Hirepool Ltd, Connexis – Infrastructure Industry Training NZ, Humes Pipeline Systems, Firstgas, Z Energy, Attach2, Milwaukee Tools NZ.

Regional sponsors include Tudor Distributors, Construction Contracts Limited, E Carson & Sons, Rapid Earthworks, Brewtown Upper Hutt, Sierra Delta Civil, Wild Kiwi Distillery, Hynds Pipe Systems, Central Group, Goodman Contractors Ltd, Whiting Financial Services, Winstone Aggregates, Daniel Renshaw Drainage and 2 Dig It.

 

 

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