Farmer’s Weekly recently spoke with Gert Roodt, chairperson of the Overberg Racing Pigeon Union, who was very proud of his region’s achievements: “Don’t think we have mediocre pigeons here. There are big guns in Kimberley, Gauteng, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London that are winning with birds from the Overberg!
The racing pigeon sport in the Overberg is a serious pastime.” The Overberg Union The Overberg Racing Pigeon Union is the parent body of nine racing pigeon clubs within its borders.
The chairpersons and one elected nominee from each club form the committee of the union. The chairperson, secretary, treasurer, race secretary and transport manager are voted in during the AGM by the organisation’s 100 or so members.
About the constitution
The constitution of the union is formulated on democratic principles, and its code of conduct is applied without compromise. Justice, fairness and equality are keywords among the principle guidelines. Slander and a wrong attitude are not tolerated and members are expected to treat one another with respect, and it is made clear that the sport is to be considered larger than anyone’s ego.
Gert says Overberg fanciers are friendly, down-to-earth people and if you holiday in the area, pay them a visit. All you need to do is look out for a swarm of pigeons circling the area and get to the house with the pigeon loft.
The race programme
Starting in June, 22 race events are scheduled each season. The first race commences from Laingsburg (195km) and the final race is held from Klerksdorp (1 080km). Because of the vast distances between clubs, it is said that the birds are flying “wide” in returning from race events. The universal accord among Overberg fanciers is that the sport should be approached scientifically. Only pigeons with advanced mental faculties will be able to orientate well in this area. Quality pigeons
Only quality pigeons can score at the top in this area, where the lofts are far apart and the weather conditions unfriendly. The race speed set by the winning birds each year is from 785metres/min up to 1 500m/min. The average race speed, however, ranges from 1 000m/min to 1 200m/min.
During race events the birds prefer to follow the coastline and do not fly over the sea, which means that fanciers in areas like Hermanus and Struisbaai are disadvantaged. Birds of prey are a major problem in the Overberg, and many good pigeons fall prey to them every year. Hawks are on time for breakfast during the birds’ morning exercise around the loft and again for supper during afternoon exercise. During road training they are ready to chase after a meal and once more when the birds are released for a race event.
Birds of all colours are victims, but the hawks chase pied and brighter colours more readily. It stands to reason that fanciers need superior-quality pigeons to score at all. The scoreboard The union allows for the first 30 pigeons back on each race event to qualify for points.
At the end of the season the different points champions are awarded as follows:
All Birds To Count Champion: All union points scored by all birds within the top 30 positions of each fancier are tallied together to determine the All Birds To Count Champion from the combined performance in all 22 races.
First Bird To Count Champion: Only the first scoring position of each fancier is tallied to determine the Single (or First) Bird To Count Champion, again of all 22 races. The Yearling and Open (Any Age) Champions are also awarded separately. As the titles imply, these pigeons are those that have scored the most at the top of the scoreboard for the entire season.
Union Champions over the last years were: 1997 to 1998: Giel Subke, Grabouw. 1999: George Erasmus, Grabouw. 2000 to 2002: the Swart Brothers, Grabouw. 2003 to 2004: Abrie van der Walt, Bredasdorp. 2005: Inna Uys, Bredasdorp 2006: Johan Dreyer, Kleinmond.
It is interesting to note that there was a shift in the areas from which the champion fanciers emerged when a dedicated fancier from another area shouldered the task of advancing the quality of his birds and methods.
However, the vast distances between the clubs, the prevailing weather conditions and the fact that the birds prefer to fly along the coastline, will force fanciers in disadvantaged positions to focus on their achievements at club level, since all the members are participating under similar circumstances in each club.
Hardy fanciers of the Overberg, we salute you! – Thomas Smit • For more information contact Thomas Smit on (011) 680 4778, e-mail [email protected]. |fw