Chris Sheedy is an official Guinness World Records adjudicator based in Australia. In a new feature on the site, Chris takes a look over some Officially Amazing events that have recently taken place across Australia and New Zealand.
It’s been an emotional few months here in the land of Oz, with two major hugging records in close succession. But they were well and truly balanced out by the fists of fury in the world’s largest boxing lesson.
In a part of the world where records usually involve sport, fitness, outdoor adventure and other such admirable, active and sweaty pursuits, it has been a refreshing change to experience several liberal doses of red-hot romance recently.
It began when I found myself choked up with emotion in a Fiji Airways A330. We were at 41,000 feet above the north island of New Zealand, about to head north to Nadi in Fiji, when an on-board wedding began.
I had originally expected the applicants for the world’s highest altitude wedding to have perhaps participated for a joke, or as a result of a dare, or for a free holiday in Fiji. But instead I found five couples who were bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘love is in the air’. They were as in the moment as they would have been in a chapel.
To be an invited guest, and a witness, at their weddings in the intimate confines of a business class cabin, I realised, was a great and special honour. And for a Guinness World Records adjudicator who had attended in the not-so-distant past a tyre-shredding attempt at the biggest simultaneous burnout (68 cars at the Summernats, Australia’s biggest revhead event - see clip below), it was certainly a different experience!
More recently I was again reminded of the passion and excitement that comes with a world record attempt. It was during the final stage of the longest marathon hug in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. Seven cuddling couples - all of whom were bleary eyed and suffering lower back pain, aching feet and crippling muscle cramps in their shoulders, necks and legs - gazed sleepily out at the iconic harbour view. They had hugged for over 25 hours and looked a little bit like they’d had enough.
But as the 15-minute countdown to 26 hours began they bucked up and began to smile. They held each other more closely and looked into their partners’ eyes, enjoying each other’s company and revelling in the moment.
“I had thought this record was a bit silly,” said a woman next to me in the early morning audience. “But now I see what it’s all about. It’s lovely!”
And it was. The seven surviving couples, from an original group of 12 pairs, had just achieved something that nobody else in the world had ever done. Plus they now had a brilliant story to tell their families and friends and, perhaps later on, their children. That day their love was sealed. Either that or they’d now never want to see each other again…
A few weeks later a charming TV star by the name of Carrie Bickmore, pictured above, delighted many of her fans when she offered them free hugs, as long as they were quick. The event, at a children’s hospital in Sydney, saw two failed attempts at the most hugs in 60 seconds by Fiona Sutton, National Director of Children's Hospitals. The number to beat was 75 hugs and after her attempts at the surprisingly physical record, Fiona moved over to give Carrie a shot. Sixty seconds and 77 hugs later, Carrie was the southern hemisphere’s newest record holder.
After all of that amorous behaviour it was almost a relief to join the pugilistic hordes at the largest boxing class.
Guy Leech, a legendary Aussie ironman and regular breaker of mass participation fitness records - and the healthiest looking 50-year-old on the planet - added another certificate to his trophy room when 508 people turned up to hook and jab their way to a new world record.
The previous record, also broken in Sydney, had stood at 452.
The month ended with a flash of bulbs as Priceline Pharmacy brought together 279 of their most passionate Sisterhood (the brand’s charity) supporters to take photos of themselves. The record was the longest selfie chain, and after a long and suspenseful wait to find out whether enough happy snappers would show up to break the record the selfies, of the ‘photographer’ and the person next to them, began.
Two hours later the record was broken, but only just. At 267, the previous record had been bettered by 12 people.
That very same morning in another part of Sydney, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day kicked off with a world record when supermarket group Woolworths brought together 2,150 school children for the most participants in a cookery lesson. The resulting meal was a tasty end to an officially amazing period of record breaking Down Under.