While Christchurch trembled with aftershocks, five senior marine cabinetmaking apprentices competed at WorldSkills NZ in the South Island city in September 2010. The judges were two previous winners, Mark Boyce and Michael Schieffelbein. They used a comprehensive marking schedule based on the international standards to determine 20-year-old Rob Hamilton of Yachting Developments as a clear winner. Marine companies Makita Tools, Gibson Veneer and Panel, Rosenfeld Kidson, Technical Equipment and Diversified Products provided support and materials. Mr Hamilton is an apprentice marine cabinetmaker, three years into a four-year apprenticeship. The project for the Christchurch competition was an ash hall table, with diamond-matched veneer pattern on top and walnut trim, to be built in 18 hours over three days. “It wasn’t the project itself that was difficult,” Mr Hamilton says. “It was the time frame and the time management – three of the five apprentices competing didn’t finish.” His completed table won him the chance to compete at WorldSkills London Finals in October 2011. A skills expert will help him plan his preparation, which will include practicing techniques such as dove tail, half-lap and housing joints. Mr Hamilton is raising $30,000 to cover air fares, accommodation, freight for his tools and the entry fee, and would welcome sponsorship enquiries. Fifty-two countries are WorldSkills members; WorldSkills NZ was founded in 1986. Every two years, selected apprentices, representing disciplines such as cooking, carpentry and marine cabinetmaking, compete in eight regional finals for a place at the NZ national competition.