Loft position and more
Now that better class bloodlines are widely spread throughout the pigeon sport, the main concern of many is not the quality of a pigeon (nowadays, everyone has quality of a sort) but form!
And when the form is good the only problem that can keep you from achieving good results is: the position of your loft.
Your position is above all determined by 'the mass' and the wind.
The 'mass' is not an insurmountable problem for really good pigeons, they can detach themselves from the mass; against an un-favourable wind however, even the best pigeons fight an unequal battle.
This applies to speed races and long-distance races, something that fanciers who live at the extreme east or west of their combine are very much aware of.
Now that it's not the minutes that count anymore but the seconds, even on one-day long-distance races that sometimes finish in barely half an hour, the loft position becomes more and more important.
By looking at the weather forecast, you can sometimes tell even before basketing who will lose out and 'who will bag all the prizes'.
- Fair competitions for all?
- Races in which pigeons in the first drop and in the last drop, at the west side and at the east side have equal chances?
These there are virtually none!
Fortunately for the sport, we are living in a country in which nothing is as changeable as the weather, and therefore Lady Luck will smile at one fancier one day and at another tomorrow.
Why do fanciers in Antwerp and Brabant take part in the National Bourges races all together en masse?
Because they usually achieve better results in these races.
Flemish fanciers and fanciers in Limburg are less enthusiastic because they believe that they have a lesser chance in this race, and that creates a vicious circle.
In central Belgium, fancier's basket huge numbers of pigeons, this mass influences the migration of the pigeons, herd animals as they are, and ultimately the end result.
The less of a 'herd-animal' (group flyer), the better the pigeon.
Suppose that in Paris 10,000 pigeons from Limburg are released, together with 20 from West Flanders, suppose that there is no wind and that they are flying in a combined competition.
I fear that not one Flemish pigeon would show up in the result list.
Immediately after the pigeons are released, the Flemish pigeons would have to detach themselves from the immense group that is rushing towards Limburg, but will they do that?
I don't believe it for a moment; I have witnessed too many releases for that.
At first they will fly north together, then their routes will start to diverge, the best and most healthy are the first to leave the group, and the sooner they separate, the less of a curve they have to make and the earlier their place on the result list will be.
And vice versa of course; the longer they stay with the group in which they don't belong, the greater the curve will be and the lower their place on the result list.
At least, if they will make it on that list at all.
The wind is more of an influence when the speed is higher!
When the wind is north-east or even east, then you can still achieve well on the east side, but beware when the wind comes even a little from the south which increases the speed.
Then the east side will have no good results at all.
For the rest, in races over shorter distances, you often have the advantage in the last drop; when the distances are longer then the advantage goes to the lofts in the first drop.
The lofts in the last drop also benefit from a bad start.
When the pigeons keep flying over the release area for a time, that will not be taken into account in the speed calculations; thus they make a greater speed in reality than they are calculated, which has the effect that the first drop 'doesn't get calculated with enough time'.
Also, pigeons are not laser beams.
On their way home they will, as little as that might be, deviate from the direct route.
And they will fly around mountains and hills, and through dales and valleys.
The speed calculations however, are based on a straight line, the pigeons are therefore again flying faster than calculated and that is to the advantage of the lofts in the last drop once more.
When pigeons from the last drop AND from the first drop all deviate from the direct route together, and when they all come to their senses at the same time, the lofts in the first drop will lose out again because of a greater curvature once again.
After reading the above, you could ask yourself how the lofts in the first drop will ever be able to win a prize.
Well, the first drop has its benefits too, especially in more difficult races, when the distances are longer and the pigeons have a head wind.
- Fatigue is a factor.
No athlete will run the 1,000 meters on average as fast as the 100 meters.
No ice skater will skate the same laps from 5 kilometres as from the 500 meters.
- Also, the wind will almost always strengthen during the day. This gives the last drop the advantage with a tail wind, and a disadvantage with a head wind.
- Pigeons from the last drop can still get caught in bad weather while the rest are already at the loft. I have been fortunate to win the national Orleans (sector) several times. One time with a high speed and some were very scornful about that.
Had I not always claimed that with high speeds, you had the disadvantage in the first drop?
And my lofts were in the first drop.
But that race was different. It was one of those rare days that the wind slackened during the day.
While there was not much wind here, the speed was high, that indicated there must have been a lot of wind in France.
Closer to home, the pigeons had more or less slowed down, they couldn't keep up the high speed of the first hours, that to the benefit of the lofts in the first drop, and with that for me, my pigeons and the other fanciers in my area.
The BIG race in Belgium is the National from Bourges, the last weekend of May.
This year (2011) the weather was excellent but something was wrong to make it a fair race.
The birds were released with headwinds, but the last 200 kilometres the wind was south west and increased.
That was also what the weather forecast was the day before.
Before the race I told fellow fanciers the first birds would be clocked at the greatest distance (the Turnhout area).
And I even dared to mention the names of my favourites: Jan van Oeckel and Rik Hermans. I dared to do this for the following reasons:
- Their location.
- The quality of their birds and'
- The fact that the birds had shown in previous races that they were in super shape.
Then Bourges came, many fanciers from the Flanders, like Vandenabeele had not entered birds and' all top prizes were won in the Turnhout area indeed.
Quite in the north at the greatest distance.
And believe it or not' The National winners were: Van Oeckel and Hermans.
On that day we saw the same thing in Holland.
Braad de Joode destroyed the race in their province. They raced at the greatest distance! .
In the province of South Holland both Verkerk and de Bruyn (neighbours to-day) race the greatest distance. They won the first 5 prizes !
Do you know what in my opinion also affects outcome of a race.
Some districts just have better pigeons, and I am convinced that these affect the pull and the lesser quality pigeons in the same district 'benefit' from these.
That achieving better in certain areas has to do with quality, is proved by the results that keep shifting from one area to another.
Presently, other places dominate then the ones that did some 20 years ago.
For instance, fanciers are looking astounded at the dominance of places like especially Sint Willebrord and Dordrecht in the Netherlands, and the regions of Kessel and Putte in Belgium.
Carelessly, the factor of quality is just not taken into account, but quality is usually the last thing that fanciers think about when they are not doing very well, and others are.
To win in the pigeon sport, everything has to go well. You must have quality pigeons, they have to be in form... and they have to 'be there' on that one specific day.
In Holland, in races of 450 to 700 kilometres, they try to even the chances a bit more by racing in sectors, so that pigeons that wouldn't even be mentioned on the result list in one big national competition can still win a prize.
Which is good; the 'clockwork of the pigeon sport' will turn over longer when as many people as possible are winning prizes.
In Belgium they have realized that, and nowadays they race 'Nationals' in zones, so that fanciers from the district of Luik are not forced to race against the west side of Belgium, but besides that there is still a combined result list.
Pigeon sport is really a village sport, but the time that every village had its own clubs with good competitions is long past and will never return.
The above also partly explains the increasing popularity the world over of one-loft races.
In such races quality and form are all important, and the factor of loft position is absent.
Also, all the pigeons get the same care.
In the USA and at present also in China, there are even fanciers who only breed pigeons for taking part in these one-loft races.
A few Chinese fanciers don't even have pigeons or a loft themselves.
They buy pigeons in Europe that go directly to one of the immense lofts of a one-loft race organizer. There they will live together with thousands of other pigeons, to make their mark later on.
This is one of the chapters of the fantastic book that will be released this fall by Syndicate Lofts (Peter Fox) England with the title:
'The best of Ad Schaerlaeckens volume 2'
Volume 1 is sold out.