Well, after a long hard, cold winter which seemed to never end we arrived at the first race of the BICC for the 2013 season from Falaise. This followed the cancellation of the proposed race from Carentan which was wisely omitted due to the poor weather in March and early April. It seems that the lure of International racing with the BICC is proving too great to resist for many fanciers with more than 200 new members swelling the club’s ranks this season alone. This figure includes more than 20 members from Ireland following the committee’s decision [ ratified by the members] to open up the club’s radius to allow fanciers from Ireland to compete with us on the International stage.

So it was that 447 members, entered 4,203 birds on Thursday 9th May to compete from Falaise a distance of more than 200 miles for most competing members. With strong westerly winds forecast for race day it was anticipated that the bulk of the entry and also the large majority of winning pigeons would be found in the more easterly areas of the club. These conditions were in stark contrast to the conditions that prevailed at the corresponding time in 2012 as at that time there was a strong easterly influence in the wind direction for the early races, giving fanciers in the west a distinct advantage.

However, liberation on the appointed day,11th May was not to be as a low pressure system sat over the British Isles accompanied by high winds and heavy rain showers. These conditions led race controller John Tyerman, assisted by our excellent weather man Steve Appleby and convoyer Trevor Cracknell, to err on the side of caution and the decision was wisely made to hold the convoy over to await better conditions which were forecast for the following day, Sunday 12th May.

 Weather conditions on the next morning were ideal with clear skies in France and over the channel with a light westerly breeze blowing. So it was that the convoy was liberated at 7 am to race the 200+ miles home to all parts of southern and western England and Wales. I include here weatherman Steve Appleby’s weather report:-

Weather Report.
After a one day holdover as forecast an excellent weather picture presented itself for this BICC race from Falaise. The weather conditions were of broken cloud and sunshine over France the English Channel and most of England. The winds over the channel were moderate from the west but veering to south westerly as the morning progressed. Visibility as far as the eye can see. At 06:00 hours a new frontal system carrying patchy rain positioned over the Irish Sea moved towards Wales and the West Country. After consulting with John Tyerman the emphasis was on an early liberation giving the BICC pigeons racing into the west maximum flying time before the rain arrived into that area.
Steve Appleby.

 The following is race advisor John Tyerman’s report on the preparations for the Falaise race:-

With and excellent entry of 4203 birds for the fist BICC National of the season the weather as usual proved to be  somewhat problematic.   Our weather Advisor Steve Appleby had noted and was tracking  the 'weather system' of rain and high winds that was likely to affect the  Falaise  race for the Saturday,  and this was  something we discussed in  great detail.   Basketting  at Horndean on the Thursday  evening  was done in rain and very high winds, and the overnight ferry crossing  from Portsmouth to Caen  was very rough with a force 9  south westerly gale blowing. However, Chief Convoyer Trevor Cracknell and his new assistant Steve reported safe arrival at the Falaise racepoint early on Friday morning.    Having   previously discussed the  Saturday weather situation with Trevor and he was aware that a 'holdover' was very likely.       Weather man Steve  again  rang on Friday  evening to confirm he was not happy with the ongoing weather picture in the Channel which was giving rain in Northern France   and very strong winds over the sea.  Squally rain and hail showers were also forecast for much of southern England.    This   information was relayed to Trevor at Falaise.    Around 6am on the Saturday I  again spoke with Steve and he gave a very detailed account of the ongoing unsatisfactory  weather, which he considered to be unsuitable to ensure a good and fair race.   After speaking with Trevor a 'holdover' was called.   

Sunday dawned very bright and sunny at  Falaise and with a greatly improved  overall weather picture the birds were liberated at 7am into  a light west wind, which was given as force 3/4 in the Channel.  We were aware of rain moving in from Ireland  later in the day and with the westerly wind influence the fanciers on the east side would always fare better.     The new Transporter was in use for the first time and  was loaded with around 1200 birds - all went well with no problems reported.    Our thanks to Steve and the Convoying team - returns overall have been reported as very good."

 John Tyerman
Race Advisor

I must at this stage point out that all positions are provisional and are based on verification times only. The final result may differ.

Leading the way in both the East section and the Open was one to the Basildon partnership of Mahoney Brothers recording a velocity of 1442 ypm.  After more than a dozen attempts to contact the brothers I eventually made contact thanks to the help of Charlie Simmons.

The partnership consists of Pat and Tony and they moved to Basildon just two years ago from Dagenham. Their winning pigeon is a two year old round about hen having just her second outing of the 2013 season. Like all the hens in the race team she is exercised once daily for one hour each morning and usually the brothers get a 60 mile training toss into the team mid week. Fed on Gem mixtures the brothers feed a light mixture on race return followed by a stronger mix for the remainder of the week made up from four different GEM mixes. The winner was 18th Open EECC in 2012 and has flown the channel on three occasions now. She is bred from a cock obtained from Pat and Tony’s brother Jim and contains all the best of the Planet Brothers Janssens and Leen Boers pigeons with a touch of Van den Bosch via Albert Babbington. This family has been moulded by the brothers for the best part of 30 years now so it has certainly stood the test of time. Pat asked me to thank Steve Pearmain of Wickford who has been a great help over the years as have B.&J. Wilson and Chris Woodhouse. Your help and friendship are certainly appreciated by the brothers.

Close behind the Mahoney timer doing 1437 ypm to take 2nd East section 2nd Open, was a two year old chequer pied widowhood cock racing to the Chelmsford loft of Alex McKenzie. This one has an old ring and is of Janssen base bloodlines via Stuart Elvin and Albert Babington. Mated in late January he was allowed to rear a pair of youngsters before being put on widowhood. The Falaise race was only the second race this season for the McKenzie timer as his only other outing this term was from 120 miles the week before basketting for Falaise. However, he had previous experience of Channel crossing in 2012. As with the rest of the McKenzie team of widowers , he is exercised twice daily for I hour on each occasion during which time the cocks are allowed to do as they please with no force flying. Feeding is the usual widowhood mix and Gerry Plus supplied by Versele Laga and the birds are not fed a breakdown mixture.

In provisional third place in both the east section and the Open on 1430 ypm is a previous double winner of the BICC, none other than Charlie Simmons of Basildon in Essex. Charlie won 1st Open BICC Agen International in 2012 and this 3rd  Open Falaise winner is closely related, as his sire is a full brother to the Agen winner of 2012 and his dam is a direct daughter of Charlie’s 2009 BICC Falaise winner, the main bloodlines being Soontjen. Falaise was this two year old widower’s first race of the season as Charlie does not compete in club racing. His only training this season has been four tosses at 60 miles and then straight into Falaise. He was mated in mid February and allowed to rear a single youngster before being placed on widowhood. The widowhood cocks are exercised twice daily for one hour and are allowed to do as they please but are locked out of the loft for the duration of the exercise period. The widowers are fed individually in their boxes on a good widowhood mix.

Colin Smith of Ipswich is another previous winner of the BICC and in the Falaise race he clocked a four year old widowhood cock on 1429 ypm to win 1st North section 4th Open. Colin’s timer is in fact an uncle to his 2011 BICC Falaise winner and is bred down from a terrific stock pair obtained from Les Hill of Pontypool. This pair are responsible for scores of winners for the Smith loft. The cock was having his fourth outing of the season and had previously been across the “briney” on two occasions in previous seasons.

Kevin Foster of Longfield Hill comes in next with a timer recording 1419 ypm. This one is a two year old widower bred in the purple as his sire is a direct son of Geoff & Cath Cooper’s Agen International winner whilst his dam is a daughter of A.E. Shepherd’s 7 Up a double winner at close on 700 miles. He was mated in late January and reared one baby before going onto widowhood. Preparation for Falaise was three inland races. The cocks are exercised once daily and fed individually in their boxes.

The Gillingham partnership of S & M Gibson come in next with a timer on 1418 ypm to take 5th East section 6th Open. Unfortunately I do not have any contact details for the partners.

A Wright & Daughter timed their first one on 1414.4 ypm to take 2nd North section 7th Open. Their timer was a yearling widowhood hen of Van Loon x Staf Van Reet bloodlines that returned in good condition. She has had 3 races up to Eastbourne this year, and flew last years BICC YB Guernsey race. Her next race will be Alencon with the BICC.

Close behind was one to the Chelmsford loft of David Coward Talbot doing 1414.3 ypm for 6th East section 8th Open.

 David’s first bird is Dark Hen , she was one of David’s favourite yearlings  since she was one of the most consistent having 4 channel racers.   She is bred from two birds purchased from Maurice Dann from his old Stichelbaut family. David purchased this family some two years ago from Maurice, and like most distance pigeons he feels they will take a little time to mature . David has been ill recently and Paul Russell (big Paul to his friends) has been helping with the birds over the last 8 weeks. Without Pauls help the Coward-Talbot team would not be racing , so this performance is very much down to Paul. I hope you are over the worse now Dave.

 Michael Sault of Norwich got one on 1408 ypm to take 3rd North section 9th Open. This is a four year old widowhood cock of Page Brothers Janssen x De Klak bloodlines that had been to three inland races before basketting for Falaise. Michael was telling me that the cocks are allowed out twice daily for one hour and are allowed to do as they please. Feeding is a combination of Gem Best All Round and super diet.

Terry Bentham  of Stock Ingatestone comes in for 7th East section 10th Open on the provisional result. Unfortunately, after several attempts to contact Terry and leaving messages on his voice mail, I have to say I failed so there is no information to publish on the provisional winner of 10th Open.

The Centre section winner was clocked at the New Malden lofts of Khan Brothers. Their two year old hen was sent sitting, and was bred by Ace Lofts. The sire is a direct son of Koopman’s De Lorris x Rafiella when paired to a direct daughter of Frans Zwoll’s Amor.

Mr & Mrs Newton of Brighton clocked the winner of second centre section. Unfortunately the number I have for the Newtons is incorrect and so I was unable to get details of their timer.

K.Roberts and son Ray of New Addington are provisionally 3rd Centre section with a yearling round about hen of Frank Tasker Casaert bloodlines. Ray would like to thank Terry Leonard for breeding this one for him. In fact Ray had two hens together and this was their first channel race.

The North section winner was the aforementioned 4 year old of Colin Smith of Ipswich followed by the Wright & Daughter timer. A three year old Deweerdt x De Klak widower to the Ipswich loft of L Abrams & sons, having just his third race of the season, comes in next to take 3rd North section.

 The birds in the west section had it all to do in this race with the wind in the west at 10 – 15 mph here in Wales accompanied by heavy drizzle from mid morning which blanked out the Welsh Valleys.

 Yet again the west section winner could be found 50 miles to the east at the Peasedown St John loft of Geoff and Catherine Cooper. Catherine writes:-

“We started the 2013 old bird season in the BICC the same as we finished the 2012 old bird season– with a 1st section win.  The section winner from Falaise is “Scar”, who won 1st section in the last old bird race in 2012 with the BICC from Le Mans.

Scar is a three year old widowhood cock named Scar because he came back badly hawked from a race last year.  Last week, Scar won 1st Poole a distance of 48 miles with Paulton HS with 660 birds competing.  He had three training tosses prior to racing of 20 miles and then three inland races of approximately 50 – 60 miles.

His sire is a nest brother to Stroller who won 2nd section from St Vincent International with the BICC last year.  These are all down from the best of our family known for excelling when the wind and conditions are against them.

Once again the birds arrived home in very good condition after a one day holdover, going straight to their hens, not looking at the drinkers, at the time of writing we have six home from eight sent.”

In second position in the west section is Barry Smith of Swindon ably assisted by retired fancier Arthur Ind. Barry clocked a two year old widowhood cock a gift from West Country legend the great Brian Sheppard of Trowbridge. This one is of the old “Jingles” lines of Brian’s. However, the main bloodlines housed are Kirkpatricks and Logans and Barry tells me he has only been back in the sport for 4 years after a 20 year break and is hoping to develop a team of distance pigeons. He was over the moon at this early success and gives Arthur Ind a great deal of credit in teaching him how to condition the birds.

Third west section is one to the Litton loft of Mark Dorrington. Mark clocked a two year old widowhood cock gifted to him by Ledbury fancier Tony Miesner bred from stock birds obtained from Geoff and Catherine Cooper. Falaise was his third race of the season and he was fed on Versele Laga Superstar Plus and conditioned on the Carlsberg system obtained from Paul Gregg of Belfast!!.

So the section positions look like this :-

East section.

1st Mahoney Brothers.vel 1442.

2nd Alex McKenzie vel 1437.

3rd Charlie Simmons vel 1430.

 North Section.

1st Colin Smith vel 1429.

2nd A Wright & Daughter vel 1414.4

3rd  Michael Sault vel 1408.

 Centre section.

1st Kahn Brothers  vel  1376.

2nd Mr & Mrs Newton vel 1371.

3rd K Roberts & Son   vel  1370.

 West Section.

1st G & C Cooper vel 1170.

2nd Barry Smith vel 1164.

3rd Mark Dorrington vel 1155.

Club treasurer Russell Bradford has this comment to make regarding BICC members who have yet to pay their annual subscriptions for the 2013 season:-
“Dudley Holmes (my Region Secretary) came to marking at mine this morning and I discussed with him the 160 or so members that haven’t paid their BICC subs yet. According to RPRA rules he advises that letters should go out immediately and these people, if flying elsewhere (e.g. their own club) should not be flying with unpaid subs in any other organisation, and if they don’t pay up mighty quickly, face the potential to be suspended from ALL racing in ALL organisations”.

 So there you have it members, if you haven’t paid your subs pdq you are liable to be reported to the RPRA as defaulters and as such will forfeit your right to compete at any level. You have been warned.

  Carol our secretary has asked me to point out the importance of using the verification procedure correctly. Members should ensure that they include the correct number, and especially the correct ring number and time of pigeon.

 In closing this report I should point out that the basketting times for the Gwent marking station at Newport are 9am to 11 am and not as stated in the hand book 9.30 – 12.30. The Gwent birds have to be transferred to Bath to meet the transporter at 1 – 1.30 pm and this would be impossible with a closure at 12.30 pm.

The officials at the Gwent marking station have also asked me to thank the Welsh SR Fed for the use of one of their transporters in transferring the Welsh pigeons to Bath, such has been the upsurge in membership of the BICC in Wales.

Well that’s the first race of the season done and dusted. It would appear that it was, for most fanciers, a very good race with the birds returning in excellent condition thanks to the care and attention of the convoying team led by Trevor Cracknell. My congratulations to all the successful fanciers - roll on Alencon on the 25th May when it could be your turn to taste success at the highest level. My thanks go to Chris Sutton, the BICC’s official photographer, for his continued support of the club.

One final personal request – could fanciers who are aware that they have clocked good pigeons please ensure that they have details of their successful birds available for me when I contact them. Could they also ensure that they are available for me to phone, as it has been extremely difficult and frustrating compiling this and other reports, as I have had to make repeated attempts to get in touch with certain fanciers. I have a deadline to meet if the race reports are to be with the pigeon press in time for inclusion in the following week’s editions. So please help me in my attempt to help you.

 Gareth Watkins

The new BICC transporter at Wellingborough

BICC Transporter Logo

Mahoney Brothers 1st Open BICC Falaise Winner

Alex & Tony McKenzie Provisionally 2nd Open Falaise

Charlie Simmons 1st Open BICC Agen International 2012 and provisionally 3rd Open BICC Falaise 2013

Bethany Wright 2nd north section 7th open

BICC members race marking at Wellingborough

BICC race marking Falaise birds

D Coward Talbott prov 6th East section 8th Open Falaise

Kevin Foster provisionally4th sect 5th open Falaise

Darren Roberts who made the 120 mile trip from Wrexham at BICC marking in Newport

Michael Sault of Norwich3rd North section 9th Open Falaise

G & C Cooper's winner of 1st West section FalaiseScar

GGDC BICC Falaise Carol Gardener & Wyn Llewellyn

Mahoney Bros Handling their Falaise winner with the BICC