Ben Richards tells us what’s involved and how he became good mates with an Olympic skier.
Q: It’s your second time competing, why did you enter again?
A: I really enjoyed the competition last year, despite it being nerve racking when I competed in Hawke’s Bay and came second, I learnt a lot about the industry as well as myself, and I got to put myself in front of industry leaders. Having moved to Marlborough this year, I wanted to meet like-minded young people and again put myself to the test. It is such a great environment, and everyone is there to support and help.
Q: Was the competition different competing in Hawke’s Bay compared to Marlborough?
A: Surprisingly, the competition was quite different. The sections were the same (eco-trellis, machinery, budgeting, interview, pest and disease etc) but the tasks were very different.
Q: What’s involved in the process leading up to the event?
A: Leading up to the event there is a lot of study (learning about the sponsors, current wine industry events, pest and diseases etc) as well as having to prepare a business proposal on a weed management system and write a three-minute speech.
Q: What are the events that you really enjoy?
A: To be honest I enjoy all of them. Some of them you hate on the day (eco-trellis as is a very physical section) but the best thing to do is not get to tied up on the things you don’t know and just enjoy yourself. On the day, if you don’t know the answer, stressing about it isn’t going to make you suddenly remember it.
Q: What do you get out of the competition?
A: The best thing is meeting the other contestants (friends for life or in some people’s cases they have met their partners there) and all the industry leaders. I guess you only get out what you put in.
I was lucky enough to be invited to be part of a pilot TV series bringing together inspiring Gen X and millennial Kiwis who are reaching for extraordinary dreams. I met some amazing people including Olympic skier Beau-James Wells, who I became good mates with.