Perpignan situated in the far south east of France near the Spanish border.

Though settlement in the area goes back to Roman times, the medieval town of Perpignan seems to have been founded around the beginning of the 10th century (first mentioned in a document as villa Perpiniarum in 927). Soon Perpignan became the capital of the counts of Roussillon. In 1172 Count Girard II bequeathed his lands to the Counts of Barcelona. Perpignan acquired the institutions of a partly self-governing commune in 1197. French feudal rights over Roussillon were given up by Louis IX in the Treaty of Corbeil (1258).

A former capital of the Kings of Majorca and the Counts of Roussillon, Perpignan changed hands repeatedly during the medieval period until finally becoming French territory with the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659. Always too far from the coast to become a port, the town developed into a cloth-making centre by the early middle ages. In more recent times, Perpignan became home to countless “pieds noirs” or French citizens who fled the uprisings of the 50s and 60s in North Africa. The town is now also home to sizeable communities of people from Morocco and Algeria who moved to France to escape repression in their home countries.

Right, that's the cultural bit over with. Now lets get on to the race.

Seventy two UK fanciers entered 252 pigeons which were liberated along with 15,094 other pigeons from all over Europe  at 6.15 am on Friday 2nd August. The convoy was greatly helped by a strong following wind so estimates of a very fast race were well in order. This proved to be so as the first bird was clocked at Rollot in north west France a little after 3 pm BST [4 pm French time]. This bird was quickly overtaken in the result by a bird racing into Belgium timed at 4.53 pm [BST]and flying 894 kms. Hopes were therefore high that some birds would get accross the channel into the UK before nightfall.

  However, this was not to be and the eventual winner was clocked at 6.06 am on the second morning, at the Wickford, Essex loft of R. Pearmain & son velocity1094 ypm. This one wins 1st East section and of course 1st Open.

The Pearmains have quickly acquired a reputation of clocking good pigeons in the Internationals with the BICC and in 2012 I remember they were clocking "teams" of pigeons from the International distance races as easy as shelling peas. This year's winner of the Perpignan race was 2nd Open Perpignan in 2012. In the recent Marseille race they clocked to take 5th Open so that performance following on from their 14th Open at St Vincent International gave clear indication that this was a loft coming into form at the end of the International programme. This is what Steve Pearmain has to say about the partners' Perpignan winner:-

 "We are well pleased with our win yesterday from Perpignan.

This hen "Mary from Donegal" was born in County Donegal and brought over to Essex as a squeaker in 2009. She was  not raced as a Y/B but well schooled to the coast.

She began her racing  as a 2 year old and has since won the following positions:-
2011  13th Open Pau   vel 873

2011  26th Open Agen vel 489

2012  34th Open Pau  vel 1183 on the day

2012  18th Open St Vincent vel 1209 on the day

2012  2nd  Open Perpignan  vel 919

2013  21st Open Pau  vel 1164 on the day

2013  1st   Open Perpignan vel

 As you can see she has been 3 times on the day at 575 + miles but also twice very early the next morning. After being 2nd twice last year we thought our chance of winning a big one might have gone.

 Her bloodlines are pure Dutch long distance, and the  Grandmother on both sides of her pedigree has multiple performances at 600 miles +."

A truly Champion pigeon Steve and Dickie. Congratulations to you both.

Mary from Donegal also wins the House of Aarden sponsored young bird generously donated by Steve and Lesley Wright. I'm sure you'll be able to select a young cock suitably well bred to pair to her Dickie and Steve.

 The winner in the Centre section also takes 2nd Open and it's that man again - Mark Gilbert of Winkfield, near Windsor. Mark's first bird recorded a velocity of 1080 ypm .Further pigeons were later clocked to take 11th,16th,23rd, 24th, 25th, 27th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 34th,35th,36th,37th,42nd,48th,&49th Open.

Mark's first pigeon was a two year roundabout cock, that was 49th Open NFC Tarbes this year. His father is a son of Brockamp's Perpignan 06, which was 2nd International Perpignan and bred 1st International Marseille in 2009. His mother is a daughter of Southfield Supreme 1st Dax International when he was paired a daughter of Brockamps George the father of Euro Dimaond and Minstral.

The second pigeon clocked was a two year old widowhood cock which also flew Tarbes this year, his father is a son of Brockamp's Euro Dimaond, when he was paired to a grand daughter of Deweerdts Magnus and Ted.

All the birds clocked  were having their second long distance race this year as  they had all either been to Tarbes, Barcelona or St Vincent earlier this year.

 Former Barcelona winner and a regular near the top of the BICC results in long and difficult races is John Lane of Whitstable in Kent and this one takes 2nd East section vel 966 ypm 3rd Open. John clocked. a second bird for 27th open as well. John clocked the same dark chequer pied cock that was 3rd sect 14th Open BICC Agen International earlier this year in only his second ever race!! Perpignan being the cock's third race of his life. In the weeks between Agen and Perpignan he was given a little pipe opener of a trainer from accross the channel at Lillers. Basketted for Perpignan sitting 12 day eggs he returned to find two little squabs in the nest. Here is Sham's Boy, as he is now known, impressive race record.

Agen BICC   500mls [First ever race]  3rd Sect. 14th Open.    1st Kent 500 mile club. 2013.

Perpignan BICC   600mls.[Second race of his life] 2nd Sect. 3rd Open.  1st Kent 500 mile club. 2013 . Pity help us when the bird gets a bit of age and experience under his wings!!!!! Well done yet again John- superb long distance pigeon flying.

 Yet another top class partnership and twice winners of BICC International races, Geoff and Clayton Preece of Dover come in with  a five year old German rung pigeon to take 3rd East section 4th Open vel 960 ypm. Geoff and Clayton clocked a further  four pigeons for 46th,59th,64th & 77th Open as well to finish off a fine team performance.

The partners timed in their outstanding chequer white flight cock ‘Jack Jones’ to win 4th Open BICC National Perpignan - 581 miles.

‘Jack Jones’ has flown in races across the sea on 36 occasions from race points located on the western side of France (the Atlantic) and the eastern side (the Mediterranean) including 9 International races. This pigeon has won many positions including 1st Open BICC National Perpignan in 2010. In that race he became the first ever recorded Perpignan day bird in the UK; having crossed the sea from France to England late in the evening. To date his winnings are approximately £3000.

He was bred by Stoffel-Gr.Ophoff of Dorsten, Germany- ring number and was purchased as a 4 week old baby. He is a very honest pigeon who always gives of his best from this small loft.

  Triple Europa Cup winners F. Knowles & son of Wingham in Kent continue their good form on the International stage with a bird to take 4th east section 5th Open vel 942 ypm.  Simon clocked a five year old chequer hen whose preparation was 2 Bedhamptons with the Wingham Flying Club and 2 Pithiviers with the East Of England. 

 She was first bird home from Argen International earlier in the season taking 37th Open.

She then had 3 mid-week trainers at 60miles and an Eastbourne with the Wingham Flying Club.

Last year she had 92nd Open Argen International with the B.I.C.C. and 11th Open Perpignan B.I.C.C.

Her Dam has  been very consistent with the following  positions including 12th Open Pau B.I.C.C. 2010, 65th Open Pau B.I.C.C. 2009, 110th Open Bergerac B.I.C.C. 2006 and 81st Open Dax B.I.C.C. 2005. So a good pigeon bred from a very good pigeon at the distance to maintain the Knowles record of successes in International races.

 John Chipperfield of Herne Bay in Kent comes in next with one on 912 ypm to take 5th East section 6th Open. John is a double winner of the BICC in recent years and at Perpignan he clocked a three year old black chequer hen of Southwell bloodlines. This one was flown on the roundabout system  and has always been a consistent racer having flown Falais and Pau International earlier in the season. John feeds Ovator corn, and as mentioned earlier ,has won two BICC races on the International scene with this German feed.

 In 6th East section 7th Open position is Adam Turrell of Maidstone. Adam clocked a 3 year old hen on 906 ypm. Adam is a previous winner of the BICC from Falaise in 2010 and here is what he had to say about his timer from Perpignan.

"My pigeon is a 2010 Van Der Wegan cross Jan Polder Hen purchased as part of a kit of 6 youngsters from Steve Wright at the House of Arden.  She’s an experienced pigeon having flown the channel 9 times with her most notable performance being timed on the day after 14.5 hours on the wing from Bergerac into a head wind as a yearling. In 2011 she performed steadily and in 2012 her main race was the Agen International where she returned just out of race time. In preparation for Perpignan this year she’s flown BICC Alencon then Le Mans and Tours with the Kent Invicta South Road Combine. I’m a relatively newcomer to International racing but have entered 4 races this year being 19th (timed on the day) & 103rd Open Pau; 17th, 41st & 76th Open Agen; 55th Open St Vincent and now provisionally 7th Open Perpignan. My thanks go to my Father who cleans out the birds during the week while I’m at work, Allan Cecil for regularly setting the BICC clocks as well as being a tireless worker for the sport and finally to all fanciers who use the Chestfield BICC marking station. "

Jackie Harris & daughter Paula clocked all  three of their entries to take 8th,12th &23rd Open the first bird doing 903 ypm into Dagenham.

Jackie writes:-

"My First Pigeon GB10H20383 a Chequer cock as been 66th Open Bordeaux on the day 2012 and 71st Open Agen this year. He is

bred out of a cock that I bought from the BBC Stud  which has the blood of 3 Spanish diplomas winners in his make up. The Dam is from J Shepherd Southwell Family.

 My  second Pigeon GB09H21984  is a Half sister to 2nd Open Perpignan 68th Open Tarbes,81st Open Bergerac & 105th Open Tours.
Sire was bred by  J Siebum in Holland full of distance blood
Dam is J Biss &J Shepherd Southwell bloodlines.
My third Pigeon GB09H21987 is out of the J Biss crossed with the Jan Aardens she was 9oth Open Agen 513 miles earlier this year

Pigeons are raced unpaired , no fancy products given unless needed, which is very rarely. I believe the best thing don't cost anything
which is fresh air! I  had a good race as I only sent 3 and clocked all three on the winning day. My philosophy is enjoy it when you have a good one and its not the end the world if you have a bad one.
I feed Versele-Laga Super widowhood  and Gerry Plus".
Well  said that man! 

The Oxted, Surrey partnership of R & N Steptoe come in next with a bird on 901 ypm to take 8th East section 9th Open. They timed a two year old  dark chequer pied cock of Van Reet x Janssen X Soontjen bloodlines that had been flown on widowhood for most of the season and then re mated and sent to Perpignan sitting 14 day old eggs. This one has some previous as he was 71st Open NFC Messac earlier this year and finished at 4th Open Wessex Combine from Carentan as a young bird. He also has a number of other club prizes. Preparation for Perpignan was two inland races followed by Messac and Tours and then off to the south of France.

Completing the top ten and taking 9th East section is another three year old racing to its home loft in Dover for Don Harvey velocity 885 ypm....

Don's second in the clock also takes 36th Open making it two home from two sent. Don's first in the clock is a three year old widowhood cock called Taffy as he was lost in an inland race and reported in Wales. He was subsequently liberated with a Welsh convoy in an inland race and returned under his own steam to Don's loft. Due to family illnesses and bereavements Don hasn't had a lot of time for the birds this season and the 10th Open winner has had just three races, an EECC channel race followed by the NFC Tarbes where the cock was 345th Open and then Perpignan. He is bred down from a Mick Spencer cock and a Dutch hen. The second in the clock, also a widowhood cock is a combination of Mick Spencer and Keith Nethercott bloodlines. The widowers are fed individually in their boxes on a combination of Beyers YB & Widowhood  Mixtures supplemented by Versele Laga High Protein Mix. Exercised twice daily for an hour on each occasion, the cocks are not shown their hens on basketting but have access to their nest bowls for an hour beforehand.

The winner in the west section clocked at 1.53 pm Saturday is a 4 year old widowhood cock to Abertillery fancier Mark Sparey.  Mark is a disciple of the Winkfield Wizard aka Mark Gilbert and this certainly hasn't done him any harm, as in the past few seasons alone Mark S has won two Welsh Nationals and is another fancier who is fast gaining a reputation for regularly clocking good pigeons in National and International races. The Perpignan timer is bred direct from one of the loft's top stock cocks - "The £30 Cock" so named because he was bought for just £30 at the bereavement sale of the late Peter Owtrim. There was no paperwork with the bird and Mark bought him purely because he liked the look of him. The cock has since repaid the £30 outlay handsomely as a brother to the Perpignan cock was 3rd National Bergerac on the day when Mark finished at 1st & 3rd Open National.

The dam of the Perpignan timer is bred from a daughter of a full sister to Mark Gilbert's Dax International winner Southfield Supreme, when the sister was mated to a Vandenabeele cock of James Bond bloodlines.

Preparation before Perpignan was Carentan, Cholet and Agen International where he finished at 3rd west section. Raced on widowhood throughout the season, he was given his hen at 2 pm the day before early morning basketting for Perpignan.

Second west section is the Caerleon husband and wife partnership of Gordon and June Mears. The partners clocked a two year old dark chequer Braakhuis cock that had flown Alencon, Tours and Tarbes earlier in the season. Raced on the natural system where the birds are hopper fed and enjoy an open loft from dawn to dusk the cock was basketted for Perpignan sitting due to hatch.

Third west section is the Somerset father and son partnership of John and David Staddon. The Staddons have enjoyed another successful season of channel racing with the BICC as they were 1st Open Tours a few weeks back. At Perpignan they clocked  Shapway Unbreakable. A champion cock who lives up to his name in every race he enters. Unbreakable has previously been 4th BICC Carentan, 75th BICC Falaise, 79th CSCFC Carentan 102nd NFC Saintes, 157th NFC Tarbes, 173rd NFC Fougeres , 30th BICC Tours 2013, 65th Open NFC Tarbes 2013 , 19th C.S. Classic Bergerac 2013, 3rd Section 73rd BICC Perpignan 2013.

The Staddons may well be 4th section as well with Shapway Star who arrived about 1 hour 15 mins behind Unbreakable. Previously he has won:- 3rd Section C 10th Open NFC Alencon, 6th West Section 37th Tarbes/Agen BICC, 19th Section G 162nd Tarbes NFC, 37th Section G 260th Tarbes NFC, 93rd West Section 100th BICC Carentan  & 2nd West Section 7th BICC Barcelona 2013.These two birds  were re paired and sitting their first eggs of 2013 after being raced on a modified widowhood system earlier in the year.

The winner in the North section was clocked at Great Yarmouth by the Barber and Wilkinson partnership. My thanks to Tony Batterbee for providing me with the photos of John Barber and his section winner as well as details of his breeding and preparation.

The section winner is a seven year old dark chequer cock which was  bred from  S G Biss stock, the Sire is a son of Emboli when paired to a daughter of Engage. The dam is a daughter of Pacer when paired to a daughter of Salve. GB06N76749 was a latebred in 2006 and was not put into a race basket until 2008. He has been a consistent performer for John and has flown NFC Tarbes for the last three seasons and this is his fifth time at over 650 miles. Preparation for this years NFC Tarbes was a couple of inland races with the local Federation and Canappeville with the East of England Continental Club. The bird regained his form so quickly after Tarbes that it was an easy decision for John to send him to Perpignan. John was full of praise to those responsible for the excellent condition of his single entry upon its return. At the time of writing, this is the only bird recorded in the North section.

This Perpignan race seemed to be successful as a number of fanciers I spoke to had 100% returns . Jackie Harris & Dtr 3 from 3 on the winning day. Mark Sparey 1 from 1 topping the west section. Geoff and Clayton Preece five pigeons on the result. Lee and Kevin Buddle of Dover 4 from 5 sent on the result and so I could go on. An excellent race it would seem to finish off the International season.

Yet again in 2013, the British fanciers have excelled with a 1-2-3-4 Open International from Pau and another superb performance from Barcelona where the Mannor Lofts pigeon scored an incredible 57th Open International against a field of more than 25,000 pigeons. It just goes to prove the point that the pigeons and the fanciers in the UK are of the right calibre and when conditions are conducive they come to the top just like cream. Congratulations all of you who dipped your toes into the International stream this year. Let's hope there will be many more joining you next year.

Gareth Watkins

Dickie-Pearmain-&-Son-Wickford 1st Open BICC Perpignan

1st Open BICC PerpignanGB09T34840-Pearmain

Don & Elaine Harvey with Playboy 7th Open BICC Perpignan.Don was 9th east section 10th Open Perpignan 2013

Geoff and Clayton Preece with two of their long distance winners including 3rd section 4th Open BICC Perpignan 2013

Jackie Harris and daughter Paula

John Barber 1st North sect BICC Perpignan

John Chipperfield & son Joe with 1st Open BICC Pau International2012 John is 6th Open BICC Perpignan 2013

John Lane with Sham's Boy 2nd sect 3rd Open BICC Perpignan

Mark Gilbert with Cardiff fancier Phil Sendell on a recent visit. Mark was 1st centre section 2nd Open BICC Perpignan

Mark Sparey 1st west section BICC Perpignan with trophies won in 2011

R & N Steptoe 8th east section 9th Open BICC Perpignan

Simon Knowles with his 4th Open BICC Marseille .Simon was also 4th section 5th Open Perpignan in 2013