Hungry Helmut Mai, the Tatura egg man, last night failed by five eggs to break the world record for eating boiled eggs.
The record, set by George Grogniet of Belgium in May 1956, stands at 44 boiled eggs in 30 minutes.
Mr Mai, 32, a seasonal worker with an appetite, ate 40 eggs in 27 minutes, 50 seconds.
Then his stomach called a stop and he was forced to retire from the record attempt. Mr Mai started strongly.
He ate his first plate of 31⁄2-minute boiled eggs in five minutes, eight seconds.
His 20th came up in 12 minutes, 30 seconds.
By this time he was drinking iced water and visibly tiring, although still munching ahead of the clock.
In 15 minutes he had accounted for 24 eggs and four minutes and 35 seconds later he had reached a total of 35.
Another jug of water was called for and encouraged by cries of ‘‘get into it’’ from an audience of about 200, Mr Mai struggled to put away the remaining eggs.
But the tide turned at 27 minutes, 50 seconds from starting time.
Mr Mai had just finished his 40th egg when he indicated the attempt was over.
The timekeepers and counters reluctantly called a halt only minutes from a new world record.
Afterwards, Mr Mai was disappointed, but hopeful.
He said: ‘‘The insides were a little bit too hard.’’ Will he try again? ‘‘Oh yes. I don’t know when. A couple of weeks maybe.’’ And he will go into serious training for the second attempt. ‘‘Next time I will go a couple of days with nothing to eat,’’ Mr Mai said.