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LE TOUR DES MARITIMES 1997 REPORT

For many pigeon fanciers, where prize money is unimportant, a better method of identifying the true champion racing pigeon is often desired. With this thought in mind, I decided to organize a futurity race, "Le Tour Des Maritimes" that would include a series of young bird races to one loft. The Overall Champion Award would be given to the bird with the least total flying time over a 5 race schedule.

This pilot project was launched by asking 10 fliers from across the Maritime Provinces of Canada to participate in this competition. Each fancier would enter 2 birds and fly mostly for recognition. Plaques and diplomas would be the only prizes. Virtually all agreed and nineteen birds were entered to fly a series of 5 races.

Early in the season, a perennial hawk problem quickly lowered the entries to fourteen. Even with this setback, training commenced on a positive note and from here the results were extremely satisfying.

Beginning in August and over a period of 9 weeks, the remaining 14 birds flew to Bathurst, NB from the following points: Moncton NB, (2 x 200 km in an average of 3 hours), New Glasgow NS, (300 km in 6 1/2 hours), Port Hawksbury, NS (400 km in less than 8 hours) and finally from Sidney, NS (500 km in less than 11 hours). An additional 200 km toss was included as a training flight because of a postponement.

Remarkably, and an indication of the quality of birds entered, the first loss was encountered at the 400 km mark.

For the final race from Sidney, six birds were tied with equal accumulated flying time of 20 hours and 29 minutes. Out of the 13 racers shipped to Sidney, 3 returned on the day in one drop and 9 in all reached their destination by noon of the second day. Eventually 10 would reach home to roost.

The Overall Champion was a bird bred by Lothar Schmitt of River John, NS. This magnificent racer trapped first 3 times and flew the 5 races, totaling 1600 km, all on the day and in the least accumulated time of 31 hours and 25 minutes. Flying equally well but trapping slower were birds bred by Mike MacPherson of Glace Bay, NS and Paul Bernatchez of Dalhousie, NB.

Winners of the individual races were: Bernie Reppa (200 km), Tony Veling (300 km) and Lothar Schmitt (200, 400 and 500 km)

Upon quickly glancing at the velocities, one may conclude that they are not very impressive; however, examining the geography of the race course closely a different conclusion may be suggested. For example, from Sidney, NS if the birds decided to fly directly home, they will have to fly over 400 km of open water. In addition, the prevailing winds make this route a very challenging head wind course. For the Sidney race, the birds consistently experienced 10 to 25 km head winds throughout their ordeal. These head winds made the actual distance flown closer to 600 km. Need I say more?

In conclusion, considering the difficulties that many fanciers experience with zoning regulations, time constraints, costs, domestic responsibilities and the frustration of flying from unfavorable loft locations, this concept will not only identify the best pigeon but more importantly, it may also be a way to encourage some to join the sport; and moreover, others to remain.

Andrew Skrobot