Last night The Great Australian Spelling Bee saw , the Top 16 super spellers stepped into the nail-biting Speed Gate.
A twist on the thrilling challenge from last year, Speed Spell Relay saw the Top 16 spellers join forces in four groups of four spellers. Their challenge, which was delivered by host Grant Denyer,was to spell as many words correctly in their 60 second time limit. The people in the three teams with the highest score would enter the Top 14. The members of the team that scored the lowest had to battle it out in a traditional Spelling Bee for the final two places in the Top 14.
With the Speed Gate set at 60 seconds, ready to start its countdown, the first team nervously stepped into the super-sized Spell Gate.
The expectations were high for Team Blue with resident spelling speedster, Zachary from New South Wales, in their midst, along with Jessica, also from New South Wales, Queensland’s Rory and Victoria’s Hanna. Team Blue gave a flawless performance, racing through tricky words and nailing 11 words in 56.32 seconds.
Next, Team Green’s Zoe from Queensland, South Australia’s Ava and William and Annie from New South Wales flew through their round with no mistakes, scoring 11 correct words but taking marginally more time at 56.61 seconds.
As Team Red’s Alistair, James and Max, all from Queensland, and Western Australia’s Josie stepped into the Spell Gate, there were plenty of nerves. Within seconds, Max misspelt the word “parakeet” and left the Spell Gate, an error that shook the whole team, prompting Josie and James to stumble over their words, losing valuable time. Team Red end the round with only nine words in 56.15 seconds, placing them in third position.
It all came down to Team Yellow. The all-boys team of South Australian Luca, Western Australian Beau and Victorians Tristan and Zeke tried their best to focus on the task at hand. A misspelt “traverse” from Luca unnerved and slowed down the team, resulting in a close race for third place.
After a tense wait, Grant revealed the final scoreboard – and Team Yellow had done just enough to get them through to the Top 14.
Team Red’s Alistair, James, Max and Josie then faced off in the Spelling Bee.
James was up first, spelling “parfait” correctly. Max was next with “austere”, Alistair nailed “onerous” despite not having heard of the word and Josie finished the first round flawlessly with “collage”.
Round Two began and James stumbled on a word he didn’t know, “artifice”. Next Max was relieved when he correctly spelt “culpable”, and then Alistair was given “quixotic”. He fumbled on his pronunciation as he struggled to spell the unknown word, ultimately spelling it incorrectly. With both James and Alistair faltering, Max was safe and through to the Top 14.
It all came down to Josie. With trepidation, Josie methodically and correctly spelt out “clemency”, going through to the next stage of the competition, resulting in a fond farewell to both James and Alistair.