First-time cherry spitter wins Cromwell competition

A first-time competitive cherry stone spitter has won the top prize of a competion on minimal preparation.

Dunedin nurse Tui Smith said his training began yesterday morning and that was enough for him to claim the trophy as New Zealand Cherry Stone Spitting Champion 2020.

“I just found out about it [the competition] this morning and thought ‘I know how to spit’.

“So I spent about half an hour this morning in the back yard with a box of cherries.”

That effort paid off for Smith, clearly a quick learner, who spat a stone 10.5m, beating the effort of his nearest rival, Belgian man and cherry picker Julien Philippen, of 6.8m as a crowd of about 200 looked on.

In Cromwell to visit family for Christmas, Smith was unsure if he would be back next year to defend his title.

“Maybe if there is a tail wind.”

However, he did plan to savour the victory with 8-month-old son Oscar who was “a lockdown baby”, he said.

He has some distance to go to match the event’s record of 14.25m, spat by three-time champion Aaron Collins, of Dunedin, in 2018.

He has even further to go to match the world record of 28.51m, set by Brian Krause, in Michigan in the US, in 2004.

The championship, which attracted about 100 competitors, has been the centrepiece of the Cromwell Cherry Festival since it began in 2006.

Four categories – children aged 6 and under, junior male, junior female, and women’s serve as the warm-up to the main event, which takes the top three from each category through to the finals.

Cromwell and Districts Promotions Group community relationship manager Gretchen Nightingale said the event was complemented by a cherry pie eating competition – a title also won by Smith this year – and a colouring competition for children.

The winner of the women’s competition was Michelle Reid, of Cromwell, who spat a cherry stone 5.9m.

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