In Sweden this week, I met a World Champion. Lassse Strandell – this man has won several World Logging Championships as well as multiple gold medals at international events. When you consider the fact that a championship must surely measure speed, and combine that with the danger of a chainsaw used at speed – this is one heck of an interesting event.
Lassse took some time to demonstrate a few of the disciplines that make up the World Championships during a trip into the Swedish forest with Husqvarna who were showing off some of their innovations in Chainsaw technology.
Changing the Chain
Have you ever changed the chain on a BMX bike? Now try doing that with a stopwatch running, and instead of the bike – change the chain on a professional chainsaw. Easy right?
Watching Lasse do this was like watching the Red Bull Racing team change the tyres on a Formula One car.
Two bolts are undone, the chain casing removed, off comes the bar (the plate around which the chain runs at high speed when operating), the old chain is removed, the new one attached and back on goes the casing and bolts.
All that, in well under 15 seconds. Lasse claims this isn’t his best discipline, apparently the best in this area will do it in under 10 seconds. That’s insane.
Crucially, you can’t stuff it up – if the chainsaw is not ready to use following the chain-changing part of the competition – you lose all your points. So it’s not for show.
When a tree is on the ground, there’s an important job to be done – remove all the limbs (branches). In the forest this is a randomised job – no two trees are the same. In professional competition, the tree trunk is a “turned” trunk, with holes in it at specific locations with sticks of wood placed in it to act as the limbs. This gives all the competitors an even run at the event, and also allows them to practice the flow of their run through.
Each limb must be removed as close to the trunk as possible, without damaging the trunk. It’s precision with chainsaws.
This is genuine lumberjack stuff – there’s your tree, bring that baby down.
Well, maybe not. In the modern championships the tree is replaced by a turned trunk of wood, in a set placed hole in the ground. Again, giving each participant the same “conditions” for felling.
In the forest the layout of the tree branches, the foliage, the wind, all these things would have influence on where the tree will fall to.
In competition, it’s about hitting your mark. A Stake is placed in the ground to identify the target. The goal is to hit the target, or come closest to achieve the best accuracy points.
Interestingly, speed plays a different part in this one. Three minutes is the set time. When I filmed Lassse doing this for us, he was well under that time. However he explained to us that the points are awarded as long as you are under three minutes. So a logger would take his or her time to correctly place their cuts, then check the placement before the final felling.
Even more precision is required here. This is no “cut a wedge then slice it down” as you might think. In the championships you are required to cut in a specific way, specific angles, leaving a stump in the ground that will be measured for a whole host of angles and structure.
Safety too plays a role in the event as you might hope, with judges checking each event and ensuring the correct stance is used, equipment is in place and overall safety then contributes to the scoring process.
The concept of a “Logging World Championships” is a little hard for me to grasp, but then when you consider we have the Woodchopping at the Easter Show as a fully competitive event, it takes on a whole new reality.
And this is serious stuff. In a Holden vs Ford like battle, Stihl and Husqvarna battle it out for the championship – Lasse tells me it’s about 50/50 at the moment, so the competition remains strong – There’s not “Queensland State of Origin” like domination going on just yet.
Trevor Long travelled to Huskvana Sweden as a guest of Husqvarna AB