Troy Lambert steps out into the beating sun. Sweat drips from his hairless head as he does a quick shake to warm-up and then picks up an enormous saw that looks longer than him, its silver teeth reflecting light. He takes a lunging stance, and begins to saw into the log before him at a furious pace, and as he turns red and his cheeks puff in and out with exertion, spectators holler their approval.
This is the Port McNeill Logger Sports, and it is not for the chainsaw shy.
The annual event took place June 28, and a large crowd came to view activities not widely known outside this wood-cutting subculture.
The Underhand Chop is a timed event where constants stand on a log and need to cut it in half with an axe from both sides.
The Obstacle Pole Bucking, a clear crowd favourite, sees contestants begin with one hand on the end of the log with their saw turned off. When “go” is yelled, they pick up their saw, run to the base of a log that slants upwards, rested on another bigger one making a t-shape. Once contestants make it to the top, they can start their chainsaw, and need to cut a complete ‘cookie’ from the log they are standing on. The ideally-nimble contestants then turn off their saw, walk back down the log, and run around and touch the base of the log they just ever-so-slightly shortened.
The hot saw event has competitors using a customized chainsaw – often modified from a snowmobile or watercraft – and complete three cuts in a 6” section. The event is part of the CANLOG circuit that has competitions throughout B.C. and Alberta. The Port McNeill Logger Sports Society organizes the event, and the wide-ranging sponsorship the competition receives from community businesses, individuals and other organizations is crucial. Society member Mike Desrochers says that after many years “it is getting easier and easier” to put the day together.
Competitors hail from many backgrounds and regions. Desrochers recalls a pair of university professors from Idaho who entered in 2014. While the competitors were predominately men, there were some females as well, and an emphasis this year was on novices.
Ben and Michelle Lefler MC and DJ Logger Sports events professionally through their company LaughingLogger, and Michelle says that competitors at this event seem to be especially generous and willing to share gear, adding that the Port McNeill stop “is one of our favourites.”
The overall winner in the Open Category was Nick Russell from Port McNeill. The Ladies’ Overall Winner was Anita Jezowski from Nanaimo, and the Mike Murphy Memorial and Novice Champion was Leo Coudrau from Combloux, France.
Full results can be found at www.northislandgazette.com