Nervous battle to take NZ title
A Southland greenkeeper discovered a talent he never knew he had when he beat 84 other contestants to become the national cherry stone spitting champion for 2016.
Dave Kowalewski, 38, of Wyndham, managed a 11.3-metre spit, impressing an enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Cromwell Heritage Precinct.
‘‘It is my first New Zealand title. It feels pretty cool eh. I have a national title; who would have thought?’’
Kowalewski was staying in Cromwell on holiday with family and went to the precinct to have a look, never imagining he would enter in the competition.
‘‘When I saw how far they were spitting, I thought, ‘flip, that is a long way’ but I chucked two bucks in and started spitting.’’
He used more of a blowing technique than spitting he said.
As the competition heated up, the nerves started to take hold and at one point he nearly swallowed the stone.
‘‘A previous winner came out to have a crack and he passed me so the pressure was on. Because he was a previous champ, this guy knew what he was doing. He was polishing his stone and everything ... I hardly ever eat cherries. It was fun but I am a nervous person and my nerves started to get quite bad. I nearly swallowed a stone on my second attempt. The judge actually said, ‘don’t swallow it’ and I had to cough it back up.’’
Christchurch’s Nicola McDonald spat 7.1m to take the women’s title, and in the junior section Aiden O’Connel from Invercargill was the winning boy with 6.8m.
Lucy Sawyer, of Christchurch, took out the girls’ section with 5.65m.
Cromwell and Districts Promotion Group spokeswoman Brigitte Tait was delighted so many visiting families got involved in all aspects of the day.
‘‘It’s been a lot of fun, great to see the adults taking part in the messy sport of cherry cream pie eating, as well as spitting stones.’’
Winner Dave Kowalewski from Wyndham and announcer Greg Wilkinson from Cromwell.