Ewout & Jaap van der Weijden, Hoorn
"The New Generation"
In november 2006 I personally travelled to the town of Hoorn in North-Holland province to visit Cor Blokdijk, champion of Marathon north. Now, 1.5 years later, I was going to pay another visit to this town that is so filled with beautiful and large old homes. This time I was going to talk to a combination that can be described as a new generation of top overnight long distance players. It's very true; who in our country has broken through to the top in such a short period of time and with such great results? I do not think someone has done it faster, better and more beautiful than this combination.
When I met Ewout several years ago, no one could predict that he would go all the way to the top together with father Jaap, as only real champions can do. In only 4 years, the combination has slaunched itself into the top regions. With national prizes like a 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 15th, 19th etc., winning two cars in special pigeon contests (something that never happened twice in one year before) in 2007, and closing off as champion on your category, that together is obvious proof of being a great combination. This was more than enough reason to pay a visit to the combination before the 2008 season started.
This combination consists of the 59-year old Jaap van der Weijden and his 34-year old son Ewout. In a sense the combination also has a third member, Nico Zinger, but more on him later. Jaap is in his daily life the director of ‘Knowledge centre building materials' in Soesterberg. This company is specialized in training personnel that work in building material delivery. Because this work has a lot of responsibility, Jaap has little time to take care of the pigeons. Sun Ewout is the head of Human Resources with a food service company in Amsterdam. Contrary to many father-son combinations, in this case father Jaap came into contact with pigeons because of his son. In 1990, Ewout worked as a paperboy and discovered a neglected pigeon. The young boy took it home and took care of it. The pigeon got a lot better, but had to go once it started flying around in his bedroom! One morning, the mother opened the window so the pigeon would fly away. That same evening, the pigeon had returned and was sitting on the window ledge! A small loft was made for the pigeon, and once Ewout told his story to a classmate, that boy told his father, Dirk Kars. Dirk was one of the more famous fanciers in the village of Hoorn and the surroundings. The still young Ewout was asked to visit Dirk, and he left again with two young pigeons. The next year, there were youngsters born and a bigger loft was built. To get rings for the pigeons he had to become a member of a pigeon club. Ewout was not always at home as a kid and so it happened that father Jaap spent time with them and started to like them as well. And this is how it all started.
The first year 1993
1993 was the first year where the combination attended a race. As many of us have done before, their loft participated on all the races that were planned. Despite their lack of experience on the pigeon races, they certainly did not do badly in Hoorn and surroundings.
When halfway through the 90's there is less time for the pigeons thanks to other time consuming activities, it is decided to switch to the 600 km races. To compete on this part, pigeons were bought by the following fanciers: Ben van de Peppel (Wormer), M.A. Krancher and son (Wormerveer) and Kees Droog (Andijk). Even though the goal was to do the 600 km races, the pigeons were bought from real overnight long distance specialists. Ben and Kees belonged to the strongest long distance players of North-Holland province and M.A. Krancher and son were champions in 1994 using a loft of only ten widowers. Their pigeons were built up from straight Theelen and Vertelman-pigeons.
A big problem
Because the location of their loft, on the east side of their department, was far from ideal on the 600 km races and the results were therefore not very great, this became a big problem. Ewout realized that Vertalman and son, Cor Blokdijk, G. C. Brower and Kees Droog all won 1st place National races, and that their loft location had a different effect when playing on overnight long distance. The results that others were able to achieve gave father and son van der Weijden new motivation to switch.
The year 2002
Youngsters were bought from Martin Hensen in Volendam in the year 2002, and youngsters from the public sale of Sam de Jong in Heemskerk. These pigeons, that had always been raced on the widowhood system, were raced on Montauban a year later in 2003 after 10 days of nesting. Everyone that has played in this race knows how incredibly tough it was. One that most of us like to see; very hot weather and the wind in front. In North-Holland province the race time was extended to Tuesday because of the almost tropical weather. Another reason for the extension was that on this race, there are a lot of yearlings every time. This first race was a true success for the combination. No less than 9 prizes out of 14 pigeons were won, 6 of whom arrived back at the loft on saturday. These six were all part of the first 8 nominated and the first one won 54th against more than 9.000 pigeons in sector 2. The overnight long distance race upbringing was a big reason for these great results, says Ewout. The 2nd Bordeaux race could also be called tough. From the 100 yearlings, about 20 returned the first day. The first step was taken, and in 2004 a start could be made with a skilled, but very young racing team.
In this year, father and son van der Weijden played in 6 midday releases. From this first year, Jaap and Ewout were no longer unknown in North-Holland province, thanks to their successes. 1st Champion Rayon D Department North-Holland province, 4th Champion midday releases long distance club North-Holland, and 5th Champion National Fondspiegel category 6. This first and very rewarding season ended with a great provincial victory on Bergerac against 2.800 pigeons.
The following years
In the years that followed the name ‘van der Weijden' became more respected. In 2005 the combination also entered in the Z.L.U. races. Pau 340th, Barcelona 76th, Bordeaux 142nd, Dax int. 54th, Marseille 276th and 300th National on Perpignan. 1st Champion Rayon D North-Holland province and 3rd Overall-champion (morning and midday releases) Long distance club North-Holland. And 2007 was going to be even more spectacular.
1st national St. Vincent sector 2, 1st Champion Overnight long distance department North-Holland, 1st champion Rayon D department North-Holland, 2nd Champion midday release Long distance club North-Holland, 3rd Champion Superfond long distance club North-Holland, winner of two cars on national St. Vincent and Bergerac.
Reading all this again, I would once again like to repeat my statement from the introduction: "who in our country has broken through to the top in such a short period of time and with such great results? I do not think someone has done it faster, better and more beautiful than this combination. "
Some of their most impressive prizes are: 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th,15th,19th etc. national. But we also looked up some interesting series for you.
Flight Pigeons flying/prizes Pigeons total Prizes
St. Vincent 9 / 5 6.385 590, 758, 1089, 1180, 1258
St. Vincent 12 /8 5.909 69, 239, 334, 420, 608, etc.
St. Vincent 11 / 8 5.232 1, 5, 41, 494, 533
St. Vincent 5 / 3 6.830 297, 876, 1235
Mont de Marsan 9 / 4 4.595 304, 406, 682, 1061
Tarbes 9 / 7 5.210 140, 213, 512, 555, 793 etc.
Bergerac 11 / 9 12.125 8, 177, 234, 566, 1286 etc.
Pau 3 / 2 2.413 349, 367
Pau 7 / 4 2.342 110, 140, 151, 471
Barcelona 4 / 3 6.777 431, 725, 834
Barcelona 9 / 5 7.520 160, 1130, 1253, 1388, 1420
Perpignan 15 / 7 4.719 260, 412, 431, 509, 518, 934, 953
If you can achieve all these amazing results in such a short period, and also win some very interesting championships, then you really must have a loft filled with high quality pigeons. When talking about this subject it turns out that most of them are from the strains Theelen, muller, Van der Wegen and Aarden. These pigeons have been trained, selected for breeding and prepared to fly long distances for years, and not without success. (St. Vincent 1108 km, Pau 1115 km, Perpignan 1118 km, Irun 1150 km and a Barcelona of no less than 1273 km) The selecting for breeding was done by no less than the most famous grand masters of North-Holland province.
Nico Volkens (Bergen: children from "de Matahari", "de Jewel", "de Barbarella", "de Jackpot", "de Dream", "El Duro", "Donna" etc.
Martin Vinkenborg (Volendam): children from "de Stamvader 94", "de Ida", "de Grootkop", "de Neus" etc.
Sam de Jong (Heemskerk): children from"de 404" and "de Superkweker".
Kees Droog Andijk: grandchildren from "de Dax Doffer".
Ben van de Peppel Wormer: children from "de 550" and "de 218".
Cor Blokdijk Hoorn: children from "de Jill", "het Blokje" and "de Minerva".
Jan Roelofs Alkmaar: children from "het Montarkoppel" and "de Montar" himself.
When reading this list, it seems impossible not to get great scores with such a background. But we should remember, success does not come that easy, not even with great pigeons.
Lofts and numbers
In the garden, several lofts have been placed, apart from each other. The older flyers have been placed in 3 small lofts with 16 nesting-compartments each. These pigeons are mostly raced on the natural system, and the lofts face east, south and west. Every day in the year they are aired very well, so they have enough oxygen.
Apart from these lofts for this racing group of 48 couples, he has another loft that houses 25 to 40 yearlings that raced 4 mixed races as a youngster. He also has a spacious loft where 80 yearlings are staying that were born between July and September and have not been trained at all. The yearlings are housed in the loft where there also sat as youngsters and they are never separated. Materials to build nests from are placed in the loft during the beginning of the season, and then left alone. They are raced every week, short distance races and one or two 600 km races.
The "early yearlings" that have flown in mixed races are taken to Bordeaux Z.L.U. and the "late yearlings" are sent to an overnight long distance race in the end of July. They do not raise youngsters, and are kept in such a way that they can be basketed after a period of nesting for 14 days. All yearlings that return can stay.
There is also a fairly spacious breeding loft, standing apart from the other lofts.
The older pigeons are removed from the flyers loft and separated around half of February. They are not released any more after that. When the flights begin again, at the start of april, the 2-year olds that are still on the yearling loft, are divided over the empty nesting-compartments in the three flyers lofts. In two weeks time they will all be moved to a different loft. Once this is done, the older couples that have been in their loft and have been separated since the half of February are placed back on their nesting-compartments. This year, that happened on the 14th op April. Then the training to get the pigeons up to speed begins; racing from Edam (15 km) Wednesday, Amsterdam (30 km) Thursday, again Amsterdam on Saturday, and Gorinchem (90 km) Sunday. Then they are basketed for the 4th short distance race in Nijvel (250 km), Chimay (300km) and Ablis (515 km). Around that time (end of May) the Bergeracteam has to be ready. The pigeons that are meant to fly in the next races are taken to the weekly short and middle distance races. The goal is to basket pigeons going to one of the more important races when they are having eggs for 10 days or are breeding a youngster of about 3 days. To make this happen, the nests are cleaned up one month before the first basketing. The racing pigeons do not raise youngsters before that time. When they are raced, they will have their first youngster. The eggs are removed in such a way before the first flight, that it becomes possible to clean up the nest one month before the first basketing. After that, they can only wait and see what happens. When the pigeons return home, the nest has been cleaned in most cases, unless a pigeon only has to race later than a month for the next time. In that case, the pigeon can keep breeding.
During the winter months, the pigeons are taken care of once a day by friend and colleague Nico Zinger. Clean water and feed, that's all that is needed. On one day he releases one loft, the next day another. Same with the cleaning itself. From early april to the end of july Ewout takes care of the racing pigeons and Nico takes care of the breeders, the yearlings and the younglings. The racing pigeons are released in the morning and evening. Until the first overnight long distance race of the season they have to train for at least 45 minutes. The pigeons that want to remain on their nest are taken off, they have to train as well. Once the first overnight long distance race is done, this training is stopped. The ones that want to stay on their nest, can stay there. The training is not forced anymore. They are basketed every month and that's that. At this point, they should have enough stamina.
When the pigeons are in the air, their lofts are cleaned. A bit of silver-sand is spread on the floor. Ewout releases the pigeons between 07:00 and 10:00 in the morning, and 16:00 and 20:00 in the evening, depending on his schedule. There is a daily routine, even if the times are not strict.
During the whole year the pigeons receive Variamax feed from the company Mariman, with a handful of barley during winter. During the racing season the pigeons in their nesting-compartments get a bowl that is re-filled every time someone is cleaning out that loft. So they always have a full bowl and this is the most useful option in this situation. Giving every pigeon different feed based on their needs is too complicated with so many pigeons in one loft, says Ewout. He has enough on his mind already, and he says the pigeons know what they need themselves. The Variamax contains all the things a pigeon needs. Ewout says he does not want to force the pigeons to eat anything. In the winter, once a day, a self-made mix is given as well, made of grit, candy seed, redstone, and some other seeds. This is given twice a day in the racing season. Everything that is left in the bowls is removed during the next cleaning, and replaced with fresh feed. There is also fresh water every cleaning, and on the day they return from a race some Belgasol is added to it. During march the entire colony gets a drop of medicine against lice on their neck. Nico Volkens gives advice on other types of medication that can be given to the pigeons. A week before basketing, the pigeons that were flying also got B.S. spread in their food for 3 days. They only get this twice a year.
With a few exceptions, pigeons can only fly two long distance races every year, with a loft on such a long distance. At least, if you have long term vision. Bergerac and Bordeaux are with 933 and 960 km the only two 900+ km races that they race on. There needs to be 3 to 4 weeks of rest between arrival and next basketing. Up until 2007 there have never been preventive treatments put into the drinking water. However, multiple overall-championship winner Dirk Pals from Bovenkerk has strongly advised them to do this. In early march the pigeons have been checked and given a treatment against salmonella, the two men do not want to ignore the advice of such a grandmaster. The future will tell if the results will improve. They also want to change their B.S. formula to make it easier, with 2 to 3 times the entire racing team 3 days of B.S. in their water, a week before basketing on the most important races: St. Vincent, Barcelona and Perpignan. Ewout wonders if it will make a difference.
What do you want to share with the readers, is my last question.
Without holding back, with an Amsterdam accent, he starts to explain. When Ewout starts to talk, he won't easily stop! Young, ambitious, self assured, but those things can also be a disadvantage he says. He does not think he is better than everyone else and knows that he owes a lot to other people. In his own words:
- Without Nico Zinger's help we never could have be as active in the pigeon sport as we are now. All the successes we have had are partly thanks to him.
- My teachers are Nico Volkens and Cor Blokdijk. They have assisted me from the beginning. I realize how lucky I have been in having these experienced champions as teachers. I have to conclude that all the top fanciers from North-Holland that I asked for advice were always very welcoming and wished me the best. There was a lot of friendliness, respect and good pigeons.
- Everything I know about pigeons comes from Nico Volkens and Cor Blokdijk. Everything I do, I discuss with them. This is how I developed my way in the pigeon sport. Simplicity is good, I think. They were very open with me, and I am too. So for all the people that hoped to discover something else, like secrets, tricks and unknown medication; that is all nonsense. If our competitors use these, then you can realize they are not working, since we beat them most of the time.
- The pigeons are selected by the basket, not by the hand. All the theories are not for us, we don't have the time for it. You have to be of good breeding to fly 1100 km or more and arrive home in time. Good pigeons, that is what it is all about. People who can hold a pigeon and see if it is good would be number 1 every week. We could stop with the sport then!
- Our goal is to classify for the first 100 national. If we can do that, the top 10 classification will come as well. The difference between being among the top 100 or top 10 is very small on the overnight long distance races, and it is mostly decided by the weather conditions a pigeon gets into during a race. If you want to win a top prize, all the conditions need to be in your favor. So for the pigeon sport the following is true as well; you also need luck to score nicely.
With these nice words from the young Ewout I will end my report of these new and young champion-combination. I can say: "They are on their way, so better watch out!" and people will know exactly what I mean.
I had to drive quite far to make this report, but with the nice weather of this fine spring day, I would not have wanted to miss this day. Jaap, Ewout, but also Nico Zinger, I wish you the best of luck for the next season. From what I have seen, things should be going very well for you this year.