Auckland Racing Pigeon Federation Invercargill Races 2005 to 2010 part I   Leave a comment

The last time that I attempted to fly the above race was 2005. I sent 7 good birds. One was an overall Christchurch National winner at a velocity in the early 1100’s m/min. I never saw a feather, ever. There were no birds in race time for any flier. A real disappointment!

A very experienced flier said when I gave him the weather for the South Island that morning ‘that he didn’t like the sound of it’. In general they seem to need an easier start. I’m sure it was fine at liberation, it possibly deteriorated up in the Southern Alps. I’m sure the liberator released the birds with good intentions. This is pigeon racing. The best year for returns since then was 2009 when there were south westerlies most of the way, 33 out of the 73 birds entered were on the result sheet by the strike off time late on the 3rd day and there were 4 day birds.

My opinion is that we should always wait for a southerly push to start them off because for Auckland fliers the distance is around 750 to 830 miles. I feel that at this present time that it is just not ethically right not to give the birds the best start possible. This opinion is shared by one of the best fliers in New Zealand and my club mate Kerry Frazer. Manaia birds are going up this year with our Invercargill birds and Bruce Cosson’s distance is about 1400km or around 870 miles whereas mine is around 750 miles, only!! Yeh, right, tell that to the birds).

I have won 2 Federation Dunedins, both hard ones. One of which I got the only bird in race time i.e. sundown at the end of the second day living at Waterview, the other 1st and 2nd together on the 3rd day around 8am at Waterview. Now after the recent very hard Timaru where the birds had a hell of a hard time I have won 3 Open Timarus all by good margins. The year I enjoyed most was clocking before Alex Castle when Alex lived at Mercer and I at Waterview).

However the Invercargill has always eluded me and from memory this is my 6th attempt. I had one gutsy red cock that flew it 3 years in a row to Three Kings and I lost him on his 4th attempt but I was foolish that year as he had already had 2 Christchurchs that year, one a hard 2 day event. I also had a BBWFC around that time that had flown Invercargill twice to Three Kings too. He had the same preparation as the red cock and I dorked him in that smash too. I was unwise and perhaps even cruel but I have changed my ways since then and although I like to get the best bird and win the race I am flying mainly nowadays just to find the best bird in my loft and to educate them from the shorter South Island points to build up a distance team for Timaru onwards.

Preparation is everything in these marathon distance events. Have I prepared the 4 cocks and hens right for the soon to be raced Invercargill. I don’t know. They are very well like last weeks Christchurch birds. 3 hens have a small youngster and 2 of those had been doing the ‘family chores’ since their mate was lost in last weeks race. So I have one hen and 3 cocks to the perch although one of those cocks was lining up one of the single hens I’ve sent. The other cock has small youngsters. Don’t worry non pigeon people, I’ve shifted any youngster that are currently ‘temporarily’ and hopefully not ‘permanently’ orphaned.

Getting back to the races, 2005 was a smash i.e. a disaster race.

2006 was the same and a refund of $1.77 per bird was offered each flier. 10 fliers flew and 30 birds were sent.

The next year 2007 was a bit better. 12 fliers sent 50 birds. Louie Nel sent a team of 6 and clocked the first 2, they were both yearlings i.e. around a year old, the oldest they could be is 17 months, so pretty damn good effort. Frowned upon by some fliers nevertheless you certainly can’t take it away from the bird(s) and Louie.

That race was on the 23rd December. Winds were variable. Nel got 2 birds so was 1st and 2nd. Mac Armstrong’s 3 year old cock was 3rd and he entered only 8 birds.

Nel’s BCH was clocked at 9.14 at night on the day of liberation and its velocity was 1420.337 m/min. We should note that a flier’s distance is calculated through foxton trig breaking point rather than direct race point to loft. So it speeds the race up from direct race point to loft measurement. But non pigeon people the pigeons don’t fly in a straight line they fly in curves and arcs and the wind dictates things a lot of the time.

The flying time was a whisker under 15 hours, quite incredible, one bird way out on its own like that. His next bird was also a yearling hen and was a second day bird at 4.58pm and a flying time of 26 hours 30 minutes and 39 seconds (we take the night hours off non pigeon people, it is more complicated than that but that is the gist of it). The velocity was 803.115 and it was 11 hour 31 minutes behind Nel’s first bird.

Mac’s 3rd place bird was clocked 6.56am the 3rd day. A flying time of 32 hours 11 minutes and 33 seconds. Velocity 654.08 m/min.

So there were just 3 birds in race time of 50, however no doubt a few stragglers limped in over the following weeks and the odd one was reported as is the usual chain of events. In a smash they often take 3 to 4 weeks to return.

However the following year was even tougher. 68 birds were entered for the 12th December 2008 race. We don’t have the number of fliers. Fliers by the way to non pigeon people are the people who enter their birds from their loft i.e. pigeon house, some of which are very flash! The winds were nor-east, ah!! those dreaded nor-east winds!! Is it a coincidence or are we onto something here as it was a smash but guess who won it?? Come to think of it I vaguely remember the 2005 Invercargill which I flew was a nor-east start but I can’t be sure.

Anyway, the one bird clocked was by non other than a Mr Mac Armstrong and that was the start of his roll of 3 in a row wins from Invercargill. From the flying time of 54 hours 32 minutes and 19 seconds it looks like Mac clocked his bird at 2.50pm on the 4th day would you believe it! I’ll have to ask Mac if that 4 year old Mealy cock was tired, maybe he’ll say ‘just a bit’. Phew!! What an effort from that bird! He sent 27.

Next time we’ll talk about the last 2 years which as mentioned above were super in 2009 and o.k in 2010 considering all the other bleak years. Bill Beattie was the liberator the last 2 years of 2009/10 and the liberations were held over until the Tuesday following a Wednesday basketing.

To me this was the key and Beattie obviously looked after the birds super well and along with Peter Longville of Auckland assessed the weather perfectly, waiting for that window of opportunity to ‘strike to the summit’ i.e. it’s like mountaineering, you have to respect ‘mother nature’ and the ‘pigeon gods’ and the ‘One’ I respect would be a good idea too!! Don’t some of you think?

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