The weekend of the 28th April proved to be an absolute washout [in more senses than one] for most organisations racing pigeons in the U.K. A deep low pressure system hovered over the country bringing with it strong east north east winds and cloud covered glowering skies- a recipe for disaster if you are a convoyer or race controller. The BICC was at Carentan for its first National race of the season and due to the poor forecast for the weekend, many fanciers opted to "keep their powder dry" so to speak and give the race a miss. However, 187 Bravehearts decided to have a go and they entered a total of 1,348 birds for this 180 + mile race from the coast of North West France. With the wind forecast to be from an easterly direction it was not surprising that the east section could only muster 188 birds entered by 21 members. The Centre section was represented by 62 fanciers who sent a total of 442 birds with the North section and west sections numbering 64/392 birds and 40/326 birds respectively. No doubt when the wind direction changes to the prevailing westerlies we will see many more East section fanciers dipping their toes in the water.
President and race controller John Tyerman advised by weather man Steve Appleby, took a cautious approach and with poor weather conditions on the Saturday and Sunday held the birds until 9.30 am on Monday 30th April when the convoy was liberated into broken cloud and a strong south south easterly wind. Sea conditions in the Channel were forecast to be rough due to the strength of the wind and yet the visibility remained good. The following is weatherman Steve Appleby's weather report:-
The vigorous low pressure system responsible for the two day holdover moved westwards during Sunday night and by 06:00 hours was centered off Cornwall. This development saw the rain migrate westerly clearing the Channel early on and Devon and Cornwall by mid morning. It also created very strong southerly winds over the Channel reaching force 6 gusting force 7. Pigeons on arriving at the coast then picked up a lighter south easterly over the main land. This wind assistance enabled the leading pigeons to attain very high velocities borne out by the provisional result. The flight path from Carentan to the mainland consisted of mainly broken cloud and sunshine with excellent visibility.
Steve Appleby
John and Steve's patience certainly paid off as the birds simply romped home recording more than 2300 ypm to the leading lofts, which, not surprisingly given the strong easterly influence in the wind, were mostly to be found over in the west section. The following report is based on members first bird verification times and may well change when the final result is published
Leading the way was one to the top class winning loft of John and son David Staddon at Evercreech in Somerset.

1st West Section 1st Open BIC Carentan National J & D Staddon of Evercreech, Somerset.
John & Dave Staddon admit to being over the moon at winning their first BICC National in partnership. This coming after a 2nd Open Falaise, 2nd Open Pau & 7th Open Saran so perhaps they were due a change in luck. It was the perfect pick me up for after a disastrous race from Bedhampton on Saturday. The partners are thankful that the BICC took such good care of their birds at Carentan and a great race was enjoyed.
They race to a moderately sized back garden loft- the racing loft is 36ft long in total with aviaries running the full length and it houses a maximum of 30 widowhood cocks 20 Widowhood hens and around 70 youngsters. That is all the space they have. The breeding loft is 10ft x 15ft and houses 15 pairs. The breeding loft is at David's house in Ditcheat as there is no room in John's small garden at Evercreech.
John Staddon (69) has been a pigeon fancier for over 60 years, since his father brought his first pigeon's home from a pet shop as a present. In 2005 John joined forces with his son David (38) to form a new partnership J & D Staddon. They have now won 9 x 1st Section National racing, this despite having moved the racing lofts nearly 20 miles from Merriott to Evercreech in late 2009. As mentioned previously they have hit the bar in both BICC and NFC races and are delighted to win this Carentan National.

The winning chequer hen is a pure Deweerdt widowhood hen. She is now named Shapway Annie after Bernard Deweerdts wife. John & Dave would like to thank their good friend Mark Gilbert for his part in their National victory. Mark bred the dam "Shapway Lady Gilbert" from his top breeder Southfield Jean a full sister to Southfield Treble when paired to a G-son of Ted and Magnus. Mark is a constant source of top quality pigeons, advice, support and friendship and John & Dave really appreciate his input. The father of the National winner is also from a world famous international winning loft, that of Geoff & Catherine Cooper. This cock "Shapway Lord George" is a half brother to their famous Grand national winner George being bred from Mtoto x Georgina. Only 3 pigeons were introduced from Geoff & Catherine but they are all breeding winners, so another huge thank you goes out to Geoff and Catherine. The Deweerdt pigeons really are amazing, winning international and grand nationals at 500 miles plus and then winning sprint Nationals at upwards of 78mph !!!
John & Dave have altered their lofts this year in accordance with their new Total Widowhood system, this meant only subtle changes to the ventilation of the loft but vast changes in their management. Hens are now being raced again and it already appears to be paying dividends as they may well be 1st & 4th Open in the BICC and 11th Open BBC Carentan with a nest mate to Shapway Annie. Quite a day for the parents of these two racers.

Next on the result at 2nd section 2nd Open was one to the Bedminster Bristol loft of another National winning fancier, none other than Les Nicholls. Les clocked a 5yr old red cock raced naturally and returning to find his hen had hatched. This almost made it a hat trick of National wins as Les had previously taken 1st NFC Nantes and 1st BICC Tours. He is a HGV driver and starts work at 5am so the birds are left on open hole all day with the corn hoppers always full. As with all Les's birds, the winner only had a 10 mile toss and a 50 mile race as preparation before being sent to Carentan. However, this lack of training and natural flying does not stop Les winning having been the highest prize winner in the strong Towers SR club for the last 2yrs.The parents of the 2nd Open winner were obtained from a visit a few years ago to Geert and Clara Philips of Dendermonde when Les purchased the dam while good friend Brian Oliver bought the sire and loaned him to Les. Willsbridge Pigeon Corns provide all of Les's requirements. All birds returned in great condition and Les would like to thank Geoff Cooper for running the Bath marking station.

The name of Dennis Ford of Blaenavon is well known in pigeon racing circles throughout the British Isles. Over the years Dennis has won no less than 12 National races including 1st Open BICC Tarbes International and added to this are another nine or so close finishes at 2nd Open National. In the Carentan race Dennis clocked a three year old roundabout cock bred from his Saintes and Messac Welsh National winners to finish at 3rd West section and 3rd Open. The cock came back from the north and so Dennis thought the leading birds would be in the Swansea area and was amazed to finish so high in the result. Terrific flying by one of the sport's absolute gentlemen who unfortunately, has not been enjoying the best of health in recent years. However, with the help of wife Ann he has soldiered on and is still clocking good pigeons in top class competition.

In provisional 4th Open spot is the International winning partnership of Geoff and Catherine Cooper who clocked a two year old chequer cock flown widowhood. This was his first major prize, although he has won cards before. As a yearling he flew Cholet just over 300 miles. His Sire is "Eurostar", a son of Brockamps "Euro Diamond", one of the best long distance pigeons ever. Dam is "Titch 21" a daughter of "Titch" who was not only a top racer for Geoff and Catherine but an excellent breeder, being the sire of "JW" 1st National Falaise and 9th National Dax plus other top prizes. "Titch" is also the Grandsire of "George" 1st Grand National Tarbes plus other prizes. "Titch" 21 is the Dam of "Fleur" 1st National section Sartilly and 2nd Fed Seaton.

Geoff and Catherine have been very pleased with the Brockamp birds crossed with their own family, their 2nd pigeon a couple of minutes behind was also a Brockamp cross so the Brockamp's have been a good investment. They would like to thank the convoyers and race controllers for the way they looked after the birds and for making the right decisions with regard to holding the birds till Monday. The birds returned in excellent condition, and they had 100% returns on the day.

John Ludlam of Nelson, South Wales, a double Welsh National winner, comes in with two celibate cocks one of which is on the provisional result at 5th West section 5th Open and no doubt the second pigeon will be there as well as it was clocked just 3 seconds later John relates the following "I was just getting everything ready with a glass of wine to hand when 2 birds came out of the North East. The first bird is a two year old cheq cock raced on the celebate system , the Sire is from my Machiel Buijk's Dolle lines being Jan Aarden via Paul Stowell.

The Dam is from my Patrick Bros lines out of Somerset Lad, Smaragd 2, Dolle, Invincible Spirit, Morning Glory. The second bird is also a two year old chequer cock raced on the celibate system, the Sire of this pigeon is Patrick Bros out of Nikolaas winner of 1st Nat 1st International Barcelona. The Dam is from Paul Woolliss the lines are Palona,Lona all winners out to 842 miles. At the moment the birds are fed V/L Super W/Hood one handful for 3 pigeons. The cocks have not been bred out this year but that will change in a few weeks time!"

Provisionally 6th open, 6th west section is RE Taylor and sons of Bristol with a 3yr old chequer cock sent sitting about 8 days . Raced by John and Nigel in their late father's name, they have been previous winners of 1st BICC Pau and 2nd BICC Sennen Cove and are consistently near the top of any classic or National result. It was a good weekend for the loft, having taken the 1st three positions in the Bristol Federation on the Saturday. No particular strains of birds are kept but over the years they have been given many good birds to try out. Their first timer comes down from Chris Gordon lines and had previously flown Bordeaux and Tarbes. The brothers like to mix their own corn but buy all the ingredients locally from Willsbridge Pigeon Corns.

R & R Wilton that is Rob and his late father Robert of Street look to be 7th section 7th Open with a two year old round about cock which flew the St Malo young bird National and was 102nd Open NFC Cholet in 2011 as a yearling. This season he has won 2nd club 21st WESRC Minstead[4,672 birds]in a race won by his full brother who finished in 1st Open. These two are bred from a Verhagen sire bought at the late Doodles Lambert's bereavement sale when mated to a Red Barcelona hen bought at Brian Long's bereavement sale.

At 8th West section 8th Open on the provisional result is a famous West Country partnership that of Brooks Bros, who, over many years have won scores of top prizes in National, Classic and club racing. The original Brooks Bros consisted of Trosky and Harry Brooks, two brothers. The present day loft is managed by Trosky's son Rob, who races from the family home in High Littleton. In the Carentan race Rob clocked a three year old widowhood cock from his old Brooks Bros family, going back to "Knocker" who won 1st Central Southern Classic Pau. After a terrible weekend club racing with bad returns, Rob was delighted to get ten out of ten within fifty five minutes in this BICC race. The second pigeon Rob clocked was 5th in this race last year.

The photo shows Rob and his Dad Trosky with the Oliver Dix Trophy won in the NFC a couple of years ago.
Clive & Jill Rogers of Radstock look to be 9th Open on the Provisional Result. Their pigeon is a grandson of National II and has flown many miles over the years for Clive & Jill. The pigeon was gifted to Jill by Clive before they lived together and then married, so quite a good dowry present! This year, because of the constant threat of hawk and peregrine attacks, the old cock birds had no training at all and their first race was with High Littleton Club from Purbeck and this was followed by a race from Seaton with Paulton Homing Society and then straight into Carentan. Clive & Jill would like to commend the BICC with the care taken with the birds which were in immaculate condition despite having four days in the basket. Today's race was in stark contrast with the races held at the weekend. Clive & Jill had 13 out of the 14 birds safely in the loft by the end of the day and were particularly pleased with a young late bred hen that they clocked as their third pigeon after 2 hours and 12 minutes. She had not raced as a young bird as she was hatched too late but had been trained to Blandford. Then this year had received a couple of training tosses with the other hens to a distance of about 20 miles. First race was Purbeck and second was Minstead and she came really well today from Carentan. By coincidence the same breeding pair - a Janssen cock crossed with a Soontjen hen bred a young cock earlier in 2011 that was Clive & Jill's section winner in the BICC Guernsey race last year.

The Ystradgynlais [ Swansea] partnership of Bryan and son Anthony Williams won the BICC Falaise 1 race in 2011 and this year they clocked two cocks almost together one of which will possibly finish at 10th section 10th Open. The first in the clock is 2 year old widower of Mark Pollin bloodlines from Geoff Farmer in the Midlands which has proved a very consistent racer for the partners. Second in the clock was another two year old bred by Andy Haydn and this one won 1st Section in the Welsh SRNFC Littlehampton race as a young bird.

Next we move on to the Centre section result and the winners here are the Wootton Bassett partnership of Anna Crowley and Richard Green. Crowley and Green's 25 entries for the BICC Carentan race consisted of one section of nine widowhood cocks and 16 hens from their roundabout team. They were surprised on this occasion to time three hens before a widowhood cock arrived as in their previous two club races the cocks had been well in front. They clocked their two year old blue Maris hen out of the West at 11:43 to record a velocity of 1989 to take Provisional 1st Centre Section and 20th Open. This well bred hen had previously won 59th Open BBC Fougeres and was closely followed by a yearling Wildemeersch hen which came back out of the North West at 11:46 to record a velocity of 1936 which may take 3rd position in the section. Richard and Anna were well pleased with the performance of their team as they had another eight birds in the clock by 12:22 that should also figure well up in the Section. However they are the first to acknowledge that the wind was in their favour. At the end of the day they had 18 of their 25 entries home but will have a worrying few days as their Barcelona winner "Minx" is still to return." Let's hope that Champion Minx has returned by the time this report goes to print.

At 2nd Centre section is the outstanding partnership of F.Bartlett & Rob Jones of Southampton. The bird timed in was a 2 year old Blue hen flown Natural hood. She has scored well on the road before and is bred by Jess Hotham from Filey North Yorkshire. She is bred from his direct V D Veld pigeons from the "Samson" lines. All birds are fed on their own mix made up from the Versa Laga and Mariman mixes with some straights added. Birds are trained on the road normally twice a week against the wind, but due to the weather this year so far not a great deal of road work has been done. They have however had 2 coast races before this BICC race. All birds get the Aviform products for racing and breeding for total health. All birds from this race came home in good condition and only the later ones were a bit tired having to fight against the wind to come back after shooting bye.

In 3rd Centre section is one to the Southampton loft of Clare, Martin and Jack Norman competing under the name of Manor Lofts. The Norman's timer is a 3 year old grizzle cock bred from a J & D Staddon Jos Thone cock when paired to a hen from the legendary Brian Sheppard of Trowbridge going back to the old Jingles lines. The grizzle has previously won 91st Open NFC Cholet and 57th Open BICC Bordeaux International so has a pretty impressive track record thus far.

The North section timers were in order 1st North section Brian Beal of Coventry who clocked a 3 year old Wildemeersch x Mattheeuws hen which had been mated and reared a pair of young birds before being separated a few days prior to basketting for Carentan. She had been entered in four inland races this year before going to Carentan.

In 2nd North section was one to Graham Jones of Cannock. Unfortunately I was unable to contact Graham before going to press as the telephone number I had proved to be unobtainable.
3rd North section was a three year old blue pied hen raced by Tim Collier of Coventry. Raced on round about she was mated in January and had been entered in two inland races out to 80 miles before going to Carentan. She was bred for Tim by Bob Lee of Coventry.

Finally, we come to the winners in the East section who had it all to do given the wind conditions.
Nevertheless, John Pennell of Bishops Stortford clocked one of his entries to take 1st East section . This was a yearling Koopman x Van Dyk flown on widowhood which had four races out to 120 miles as a young bird and this season had two short races before Carentan.

In 2nd section was a two year old Vandenabeele Cock to the Bexleyheath loft of Colin Hoskins which was sent calling to nest and had not previously been mated in 2012 and has previously scored in BICC races.

Third section was the South Ockenden partnership of Richard Down and Eddie Good who clocked a 2 year old Westcott cock which had previously been entered in two inland races.

That's it then- a terrific race to start off the BICC race programme. This report has been compiled in great haste and I apologise in advance for any errors and should emphasise once more that all positions quoted are purely provisional as they are based on first bird verification times.. Good luck to you all in the forthcoming National and International races.
Gareth Watkins.