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Michel & Joep Verweij were recently introduced to pigeon sport on Mallorca

Late December, Michel Verweij and his son Joep visited Mallorca. They had planned several loft visits on the largest of the Balearic Islands, found to the east of the Spanish mainland in the Mediterranean Sea.

Father and son Verweij let us know it was an enjoyable and pleasant experience. 

Balearic Islands marked in red. From West to East, the three largest islands are Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca.

"We received a warm welcome. Amongst the people present was the president of the pigeon racing association on the Balearic Islands, Mr. Pep Toni Torres. Later at the forum, fanciers from other islands such as Ibiza and Menora had travelled there to take part and ask me questions", Michel explains. 

"It was handy during our stay that my son speaks Spanish and our host Rafel Gomez in turn is a fluent English speaker. This allowed us to communicate perfectly with one another", says Michel. 

"Pigeon sport on Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands is tough, especially as their pigeons have to travel many kilometers across the sea. Returning home is therefore often more important that winning. It is all or nothing in that sense...

"As the pigeons from Mallorca face a tough journey from mainland Spain via Ibiza, battling harsh conditions, many fanciers were interested in better preparing and guiding their pigeons towards a race. Moreover, they were also interested in better pigeons, especially Barcelona pigeons from Northern Europe. Logical, as perseverance and stamina is required for a pigeon to excel on Mallorca. With the introduction of a/o Dutch and Belgian Barcelona pigeons they hope to breed stronger pigeons in the future, better capable of returning hope from these tough races across the sea." 

During the loft visits on the island of 860,000 inhabitants, it quickly became clear fanciers are familiar with PIPA. 

The racing season on the Balearic Islands runs from January until April. Thereafter, it is too warm to continue racing. The Mediterranean Sea also warms up which leads to the evaporation of a lot of water, creating mist which makes it even more difficult for pigeons to orientate. The pigeons are released on the Spanish mainland. Until Ibiza they travel many kilometers across the sea. After Ibiza, they once again cross the sea, until they reach Mallorca. The pigeons from Menorca, the most Easterly positioned island, face a third passage across open water. 

"I spoke to many enthusiastic local pigeon fanciers from the islands. It is special to see how they experience pigeon sport, especially the extreme long distance races. When a pigeon returns after 950km, including many across the sea, there are tears of joy. Often these pigeons are then immediately placed on the breeding lofts", Michel Verweij concludes.