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.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Behind every world record attempt is the expertise of professionals in their field.
Their success underpins Alastair's.
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Most cucumbers snapped in one minute: 75
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most cucumbers snapped in one minute.
Snapping cucumbers is great. I like the crunching
sound they make as they split and bits of their flesh goes flying
together with the odd pip and plenty of juice. I bet that sounds a
little odd. But trust me, its a wonderful feeling.
A TV studio flew me to a venue that suited their
staff. There, I was shown a table under the trees and told the film
crew would be arriving shortly. Although I was accustomed to media in
my life by then, I still felt my stomach turning. It was imperative
that I succeeded, because a grocery company had sponsored boxes of
cucumbers. What would I say to them if I failed this attempt on TV?
I stood in silence for a few moments, pondering.
Yes, I had practised with - or wasted might be a better term – a bag of
cucumbers back near my home. There was a specific method which worked
best, and I had to replicate it. All sorts of things affected the speed
at which I could snap: the height of the table, how closely the
cucumbers were packed, and the angle at which each lay alongside the
next. But nobody could have prepared me for the mishap which occurred
that early morning.
The supplying company had been generous and
helpful. Through no fault of their own, in the process of arranging our
request, a load of very chilled cucumbers had been sent. This wasn't
quite the plan. But it was too bad; I could hear the first of the TV
crew assembling at the building's entrance and they were coming for me.
With painstaking effort, I laid out each cucumber
at precisely the correct angle to the next one on the table which I had
levelled as best I could in the grass. Others were being entertained by
my cucumber management skill, but this wasn't planned. I knew I had a
split second to deal with each and there was no second chance - for me
to claim a world record or for me to show the viewers my abilities. Of
their own accord, some cucumbers rolled ever so slightly so I had to
reposition them with precision. They had to be lying at an angle that
allowed me to pick each up, then flick away each half and not have
these pieces land where I was yet to grab. That required me to use a
particular wrist movement, and to exert pressure with only certain
parts of my hand muscles. Of course this is of no consequence to anyone
but a world record breaker, and right then it was foremost in my mind.
An employee came rushing out to say the film crew
would need to start in ten minutes so that the live broadcast would
slot in as planned. I scratched my head. There was nothing I could say
but “That would be lovely”. Those cucumbers had better snap the way I
want them to, I thought. They would, because their refrigeration meant
they were very turgid. The tests I'd done showed this, and I was able
to break some into six or more sections with ease.
timekeeper was positioned in the cameraman's
field of vision. It was time. One after the other, I split the knobbly
green cylinders. My hands tossed sections to the left and right,
unintentionally high into the air. The cold in each cucumber was
transferring to my hands and I gradually slowed down. The muscles in my
wrists weren't able to keep up the swift and repetitive movements and I
could see the difference in my cycle time. Around the corner on the
table I went, following the line of cucumbers like some programmed
robot on the hunt. In my peripheral vision, I could see at least one
staff member jump back as one of the dripping projectiles flew straight
toward her. It missed.
I kept going. The cold was then affecting my
speed with more impact, and the timekeeper was giving me an update on
the available seconds left. Each time she did so, it seemed by hand
motions hastened, just fractionally. I raced along the opposite edge of
the table and sped towards the last cucumber, finishing before the
timekeeper stopped me. Oh dear! Where's that grocery company, I thought
with a sense of longing. However, no amount of wishing would produce
more cucumbers instantly, I was aware, so all I could do was stand back
and look into the TV camera. It was all over for me.
After cleaning up the mess and asking that the
cucumbers be given to the local zoo, I joined the staff inside. They
congratulated me and explained how the footage had come across really
positively for the viewers. Well, that's great, I was thinking, but
they'll never know the depth of management required to bring such a
simple stunt to their TV screens.
As usual, I returned home to complete the admin
which needs to accompany every world record attempt claim. I found it
pleasing to be told that this event had generated higher than average
viewer ratings on national TV. That was quite something, I remember. In
fact, it goes to show that the things I get up to are actually of great
interest and hold wide-ranging appeal. I mean, much of New Zealand
turned their attention to their TVs that morning, so I've proven it,