took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
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Fastest time to halve 10 matches with an axe: 4.31
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Fastest time to halve 10 matches with an axe.
Let me tell you something. Give me an axe, give
me matches, and leave me to play – and you'll see great things! That's
just what happened when I decided doing this would make a wonderful
world record attempt.
A close friend had given me a hand axe as a gift
when I came to live halfway across the world. I've kept that axe ever
since; to keep it, I carried it through international airports in
Africa, Asia and Australasia. Yes, I had to defend my gift and I was
prepared to fight for its ownership if I had to. Thankfully, the little
axe has been safe all these years.
I was ecstatic to be able to use it for the most
important thing in my life: involve it in a world record attempt. The
day I pulled it from its sheath when I first began preparing for the
attempt was a sentimental one for me, bringing back memories of my
younger days in the South African wilderness with my friend. I clutched
the blade tightly, as if to take me back in time.
Feeling a pinch, I let go quickly. I'd sliced the
skin off my palm. That was bad at the time, but with such a sharp
blade, I knew the world record attempt would be straightforward. I
began planning what I'd do. First, I'd need to get hold of a chopping
block. Next, I'd need to practise. And thirdly, I'd have to be sure to
be the swiftest match chopper alive by the day the world record event
came around. I could do that, because I believed in myself.
When I saw the sliced section of tree trunk, I
was sure it would be suitable. I took it home and positioned it on the
grass. With great eagerness, I began tossing the axe at it in gentle
somersaults, hoping to peg the blade into the wood. Just for fun, since
I was really meant to be practising – and I knew it! But when the
handle suffered a blow, I stopped that game right away. Using the box
of matches in my back pocket, I settled down to the actual task. What I
wanted to see was a neat pattern of matches laid across the wood, in
place to be hacked in half.
It took more time than I'd bargained on. As I
laid each match down, it seemed I was creating some sort of artwork.
Bizarre. But by the time I had new matches spread right across the sawn
stump, it looked good. Sure, I thought it looked good because I had
done it! This took me nearly 15 minutes; by then I was satisfied with
the positioning and ready to destroy all matches in sight. Very slowly
– almost in slow motion until the blade fell, I chopped the first. It
cracked and then, halved, jumped off the wood to the left and right.
The second match didn't deserve such loving treatment. I was feeling
more confident by then. I slammed the axehead into it and it split so
fast, to my eyes the whole thing vanished. All the other matches went
the same way. I was enjoying this, so I tried another batch of matches.
Laying them out the next time was a lot quicker. I felt sadistic;
laying out these harmless matches so I could annihilate them individual
by individual. But it was fun, so I continued.
By dusk I had become more confident than I
probably should have been. Chopping with familiarity, I smacked the axe
carelessly once and it slipped off the block, into my ankle. Pain. The
blade had struck my shoe, but it still hurt. Inspecting the sore area,
I saw a large vein and shuddered to think of if the axe had severed it.
That was the end of my practising for the day.
And so, it turned
out, that was the last
practising I did for weeks. I was arranging so many world record
attempts for an upcoming public record breakers' event, my attention
was thinly divided. The least of my worries was halving matches. But I
did get myself to spend at least another half-hour perfecting my
match-destroying technique closer to the day of the attempt. I was
satisfied. I was ready. And I was still in love with my little axe.
My two assistants and I walked briskly onto the
field at the event. Groups of spectators and event participants saw the
axe in my arms. I can only imagine they would have expected me to do
something spectacular with it, such as throw it blindfolded or split
flying apples with it. I hesitated, but then shirked off my insecurity
and laid out all my gear. On the temporarily positioned stage, I laid
the wooden block. The announcer called everyone closer and announced
what I was about to do. Some commented, and many young children took
great interest. Somewhat nervously, I smiled at the staring faces
inching ever closer.
The timekeeper counted down and I gripped the axe
with enormous pressure. On the count of zero, my behaviour turned
mechanical. Up, smash, move along, up... Then, pulling the axehead
toward me, away from the chopping block, I exclaimed that I'd finished
and the helper halted the running stopwatch. The announcement came and
I was happy. Strangely, there were bits of match as far away as 3
metres. I was so pleased with myself, all I wanted to do was hug and
kiss my axe. But, seeing all the eyes watching me, plus a photographer,
I figured that wouldn't have been a wise move. I clenched my fists
around my axe instead, telling it how much I loved it very softly.
Nobody noticed; I felt rewarded.
Spectators had begun to disperse and all that was
left to see to was the remaining admin. For posterity, I collected some
of the broken matches after counting, which helped me prove what I'd
done. A few minutes later, the world record attempt was over and done
with, and I was immensely proud of my axe. I wished the friend who'd
given it to me could have been there, to see what his gift had
achieved. To me, this was a big deal. Perhaps not to anyone else,
although I felt it was a privilege. As for the halved matches, apart
from most having been wasted, I had a number in my pocket as special
keepsakes for remembering the year I made news across the internet for