In conversation with Verkerk
In conversation with Bas Verkerk
This time I would like to introduce father Gerard Verkerk and son Bas.
Bas is a phenomenon. At the age of 22 he already had an Olympiad bird. In 2014, at the age of 37, he is the best of Holland at long distance.
He destroys one race after the other in a way that never happened before.
In the past it was hard to accept for many that some one could be so dominating, today his supremacy is generally accepted.
He clocks his birds from a race of 750 kms as if it were 150 kilometres.
59 birds in the race and 54 prizes at a long distance race? Nobody is surprised any more. To-day fanciers are surprised when he performs average.
It is true, people gossip, but' Would vet H de Weerd buy his pigeons if quality is not the most important thing that matters in this sport?
- Take also Leo Heremans. He had heard about the Dutch star and wanted to check out himself how good these birds were. He bought a Verkerk bird and' it became grandmother of "Bolt": 1st National Ace Sprint that was sold for 320,000 euro. A record. Anyway; As for Verkerk it is hardly possible to exaggerate. At the age of 26 he decided to quit his well paid job and became a professional pigeon fancier. How much confidence this young guy must have.
Just a few of his many breath taking results:
- Vierzon, 580 km, 10.728 p: 1,2,3,4,5,7,13,14,15,20,26,29 etc (54/90).
- Bourges, 591 km, 5.804 p: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,15,16,19 etc (53/60).
Chateaudun NPO, 502km, 11.572 p: 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 13, 14, 21, 23, 32, 38,57,78,80,82,85,88,90,91,92,110, etc (85/112)
Meaux Sem.Prov, 368km, 17.204 p: 1,2,3,9,10,12,14,17,18,19,23,28,29,30,32,34,38,40,42,53,73,81,113,115,116,120,139,141,145,146,159 enz (133/186).
And believe it or not, the best is yet to come.
- Furthermore he bred 12 Olympiad birds, several National Ace pigeons and birds that got a top position in the international competition WENC (West Europe)!
High time to interrogate this super star.
The backside of the house of the Verkerkfamily. They owe it to their fantastic pigeons
When did you get an interest in pigeons?
When I was seven. When I was 26 I chose pigeons as my profession. My father vainly tried to stop me (had a good job), but I had my mind set.
(Note: Bas used to live in a modest house in a densely populated area. Now he and his parents live in a fantastic mansion. They all owe this to his pigeons and his talent as a fancier. And he deserved it. While others may go to the seaside to relax, this is no issue for Bas. He is too busy with his birds. So no reason to be jealous. Who else has such will power and energy?)
When you were a kid your father raced pigeons. He was good but not THAT good. What did he do wrong?
Not real much. The difference is that I was young and had time. My father had to work and had no time to give the birds the attention they need.
Your star rose fast. Did your dad give you so much money to buy the birds that you wanted?
Not at all. The first basic birds of my family he bought for little money from Bros de Wit, Ouwerkerk and Vroomen.
Still I do not understand how you managed to become so great in just a few years" time. Are you so good or are others such poor handlers?
As for me I think it is the generation gap that made the difference. I am young, ambitious, fanatic, energetic and absolutely want to win while the opponents in a sport in which I want to be the best are of another generation.
They are traditional, less ambitious and not innovative.
My elderly fellow sportsmen have other ambitions and interests as well.
For me it is pigeons only.
Can you tell me in short how you formed your family?
We successfully imported pigeons from the following fanciers:
- Initially Bros de Wit, Ouwerkerk and Vroomen.
- About 2000 pigeons from you: So Schaerlaeckensbirds.
- And finally pigeons from Koopman.
Recently I imported more birds but the pigeons from the fanciers above are my basic birds.
How many birds do you keep in winter?
About 200 racers, 45 breeding pairs and others.
The impressing new loft.
Which are the best racers you ever had?
"Olympic Ronaldo from 1996, "Unbelievable" from 2003 and "Solange from 2007".
And your best breeders?
- "Magic Amore" from Koopman.
- "Bubbels" from you, Ad Schaerlaeckens.
- And also our "Olympic Survivor" and "Olympic Solange" are fantastic breeders.
Are you still importing birds?
Who does not want to improve himself? But now I prefer the Ace pigeons themselves and not their babies, brothers or sisters.
While many other Champions recently imported Belgian birds, you seem to stick to Dutch pigeons. Has this a special reason?
Many Belgians are free to basket in other clubs. So they race where the wind is favourable for them. How can I judge the quality of such birds?
Moreover Belgians focus on a certain distance, they specialise. We want all round birds that can win from 300 kilometres but also from 750.
What type of bird do you like?
I know nothing about pigeons. I breed many youngsters which all get a chance to survive the selection. About eyes I do not know anything either.
1st National Ace M D in 2008. 1st National Ace All round 2008. Olympiad bird in 2009 All round
You race so-called "total widowhood". Have you changed your system throughout the years?
Just a minor change. Where we lived before the racing hens were outside in the aviary all day long during the racing season. Here they stay in the loft.
Do you show the partners before basketing?
Never. Only after a hard and irregular race I go on the road with the racers in the middle of the week to restore their self confidence.
You race your birds every week till the middle of August. Do you do something to let them recuperate?
If you mean additives or something like that, the answer is no. I believe in the natural way and I certainly do not put anything in the drinker. When the birds get home from a hard and long race the feeder is full. The birds can eat whatever they want to eat. I trust on their instinct.
Olympic pigeon Budapest 2015
FEEDING AND TRAINING
How important is feeding?
Our birds always get the same food. When the weather forecast says "strong tailwinds" or the opposite "strong headwinds" this does not make any difference to us.
Some other "long distance guys" have their birds train 3 hours a day? Is that a must when you race long distance?
Our pigeons train 50 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the evening. The windows are closed then.
And what about road training which many foreigners find so important?
We do not believe in that. We only go on the road with our birds after a difficult race like I said before to restore the self confidence.
What are, in your opinion, important additives?
We tried everything. Whenever there was something new I felt like testing it. The result is that now there is not one additive I believe in.
Moreover: Let the birds themselves get out of the food what they need. Thus you prevent the pigeon body from becoming lazy, if you know what I mean.
Despite your young age you have pretty much experience. What have you abjured?
We listened too much to others. A fancier must have self-confidence and that is what we have now. We have learned from our own experiences and not from what others said.
Olympic bird Budapest 2015
Do you medicate just before the racing season as some others do?
Do you act according to a scheme? I mean medicate against different diseases every now and then?
Absolutely not. What is the sense of medicating against a non-existing disease?
How do you deal with paratyphoid?
It depends. What is the use of medicating when there is no problem?
I can tell you in 2014 we did nothing at all, we did not cure nor inject the birds. Furthermore we prefer to treat birds individually when something is wrong. We definitely will not medicate all our birds in order to cure two or three.
Is the so called young bird disease (Adeno/Coli) also a problem for you?
Sure, concerning this our birds are not different from others. I daresay we have good pigeons, so it has nothing to do with quality.
Olympiad pigeon long distance, Budapest 2015
You were real sensational in so many races. Are there special races that you will not easily forget?
There are several of such races.
- Take that memorable race from Chateauroux in 2003. The weather was hard for this 631 kilometre race. We entered 73 birds, 51 of them won a prize and what kind of: We won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 19th, 24th, 25th, 26th and so on against no less than 6.664 birds.
(Note: This race indeed caused a lot of commotion in the country. The winner was a bird called "Sprint", that was bred from a bird of mine. Later on Leo Heremans, of all people, bought a child of this "Sprint" that became the mother of his "Bolt".
- Then there was that race from Bourges, 586 kilometres. We clocked 14 birds in 34 seconds and won against 8.548 pigeons: 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th and so on. So 13 birds within the first 19 from such a mass of birds.
- Also a race from Argenton (66O kilometres) I will remember as long as I live. Against 6.595 birds I won: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and so on. I entered 56 birds, 43 prizes were won.
Due to the Internet results like these leak out pretty fast. They were reason for many a foreigner to doubt the strength of the competition. Especially many Belgians were and still are sceptical. An American fancier once mailed me: "How can he have such results? Does Verkerk race against ducks?"
I can understand those people, I would have the same thoughts. That means' If I were a foreigner. But I live in Holland, so I know a little what I am talking about. In some areas of the country competition is poor indeed, but not in the province where Verkerk Lives (South Holland). I even daresay competition is real strong there.
Feline won in 2011 and 2012 no less than 12 prizes in first 10%
So far our interview with Bas Verkerk. He enters very many birds, that is true.
But his prize-percentage is amazing. In the leading pigeon magazine De Duif I called him the best of Holland in the one day races.
No one protested!