In the third in our series of posts about the disciplines in the original extreme sport, we’re digging into the detail of the Single Buck – a STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® event that gets the heart pumping whether you’re watching or taking part!
This may look like one of the easier events when it comes to technique but the Single Buck isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think.
The aim of the game is to saw through nearly half a metre (or 46cm to be precise!) of white pine with a two-metre-long crosscut saw in the quickest possible time. Competitors have an area of 4cm on the log in which to make the cut and it must be a complete disc or ‘cookie’ otherwise the athlete is disqualified.
The name of the event refers to the name of the tool used in it – the saw itself is known as a single buck saw. You may also have heard of the double buck too, which uses the same type of saw but with a person holding each end. The double buck event is part of many logger sports competitions, but it’s only the single buck that features in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Series, where just one person takes on the log.
There are two different types of single buck racing saw – the M Tooth or the Peg and Raker. On an M Tooth, the teeth have two spikes on each tooth so that each one is shaped like an M. The teeth are shorter too, so it makes the saw less efficient as you are cutting less wood each time, but it does make it slightly easier for someone new to the sport to use as it’s less likely to get caught in the wood.
The peg and raker saw is the saw of choice for the majority of TIMBERSPORTS® athletes as it is the more efficient one, but getting the technique right is critical with a peg and raker. The saw must be guided through the cut in a smooth, straight movement – rocking the saw up and down during each cut will only result in the longer teeth getting caught on the wood, wasting valuable seconds during a competition.
Neither type of single buck saw comes cheap either, with only a handful of companies that make them worldwide, including Tuatahi in New Zealand, Mercier in Canada, Jim Taylor in the USA and KBT in Australia. With prices starting from £1,300 and long waiting lists, half the challenge of taking on the single buck is getting a saw in the first place!
But once you have got your hands on one, the technique is all-important when it comes to getting the sort of times you need to succeed in TIMBERSPORTS®.
It is absolutely crucial to keep the sawing motion as smooth as possible, keeping as many of the razor-sharp teeth on the wood as possible during each cut. You need a good solid stance, from which you can put all of your power into each stroke, and use the full-length of the saw to get the best possible time.
Talking of the best times, the British single buck record is held by Simon Bond, who set an impressive time of 13.52 seconds during the 2016 British Championship.
Bond’s record looks like it may not be broken any time soon either. A recent change to the TIMBERSPORTS® competition rules has made the Single Buck even more challenging. In previous years, competitors were allowed to have a helper on stage during the event to wedge and spray. This meant that the helper could insert a wedge into the cut to hold the disc away from the rest of the log, as well as spraying the saw with lubricant during the cut.
However, since the 2019 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® World Championship, the rules have been changed so that helpers are no longer allowed. The saw can still be sprayed with lubricant backstage before the event but as soon as they get onstage, the athletes are on their own!
This does mean there are two official world records for the single buck. Prior to the rule change, TIMBERSPORTS® legend and nine-time World Champion, Jason Wynyard from New Zealand had the time to beat, after he set a record of 9.40 seconds at the 2007 US Championship – a record that stood for 12 years!
The 2019 World Championship was the first international competition which followed the new rules, so there was all to play for with the fastest time recorded during the competition automatically becoming the new world record. And Canadian Ben Cumberland, a late replacement for his brother Nathan, was the eventual record holder, sawing through the log in a time of just 12.94 seconds!
Will that record stand for as long as Wynyard’s? Keep an eye on all the TIMBERSPORTS® news to find out!