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The combination of father & son Cuffel (Montivilliers, FR) wins 1st international Barcelona!

Barcelona, the queen's race on the international calendar. This race is followed worldwide, and every fancier dreams of winning this race one day. It became a reality last week for the combination of father & son Cuffel from Montivilliers, who took the first international prize after having already won a 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th international. Hats off!


The Cuffel family reunited around the 'Special One'.

Barcelona edition 2015

Many fanciers expected a hell of a race but it was not all that terrific. Given the weather forecasts and the heat wave that raged in Europe since a few days, everybody was wondering how the race would develop. Some were expecting a race that would last for several days, while insiders were probably laughing at the idea. It was obviously a terribly hot day, as 19,083 pigeons entered for the queen's race, enjoying a favourable tail wind blowing in south-south east direction. It was going to help them sensibly. The first and only announcement on the first day of the flight was registered at 20h57'05". Nothing else came that day. The french lofts started to clock their first pigeons at 8am the next morning. Then we also had an announcement from Noel Peiren, at a time when not many pigeons were back home yet. The heat continued to rage even early in the morning. We had to wait until 09h48 to see the first announcement in the Netherlands, by the legendary Cor de Heijde. However, he was eventually beaten by another Dutch loft later on. The Netherlands managed to achieve a fantastic result at international level finishing in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th place.

Then, a large group of pigeons started to arrive home. Several pigeons came back home, and so we knew that we had a smooth race. The belgian national race was closed during the second day of flight (the international race followed quickly, during the third day of flight), in the middle of the evening (20h40 for a belgian short distance). In the end, it proved a successful race for the organisators from Cureghem Centre. It's quite remarkable to see how our pigeons are now able to push their limits. Twenty years ago, the same race would have been probably lasted three times more. But things have changed: most of the fanciers are now basketting their pigeons for the final victory while in the past, some basketed their pigeons just to get rid of them. Henceforth, Barcelona is the ultimate goal for numerous lofts and the teams are prepared specifically for the race. That's what makes this such a magical race. Barcelona is a special race.

Victory for the Cuffel family

The international winner from the family Cuffel will always be a special pigeon, as he was the only one to get back home during the first day of flight. That's why he was renamed 'The Special One'. A fantastic performance for some, a suspicious one for others (unfortunately). And yet, it was completely normal: a pigeon at maximum potential who had to cover one of the shortest distances at international level, with a favourable wind. In addition, the temperatures are often lower along the French coast. This achievement is totally plausible. Hard but possible. Nobody never contested the performances of the dutch fanciers when they clocked many of their pigeons during the night. It's simply a fantastic performance and everybody has to respect it. 
What this pigeon has achieved is truly exceptional. He had to fly on his own during the biggest part of his trip of 917 kilometers to get back home. He showed his strength and orientation capacities. The strongest, the quickest, the best. A five stars performance. The sceptics should keep their mouths shut.

The winning arrival

If you check the blog of the Cuffel family (http://colombiercuffel.skyrock.com/), you will quickly understand that something special was bound to happen. There is the video of the release published around 17h00, with the following comment: 'There is a tail wind, so we are going to wait outside, who knows ...!' When they wrote this sentence, they probably had no idea that they were actually right. As soon as he got up that morning, Gerard Cuffel was only thinking about the race. The pigeons were released early in the morning to protect them from the heat wave, which was a good thing for them. Gerard was really happy about the decision. The rest of his journey can be briefly summarized: a day at work. His working day usually ends at 8:00pm but he decided to leave early, at 4pm. He was simply too nervous and all he could think about was the 10 pigeons he had basketed for the race. He did not have quite a productive day at work. He  came back from work and he took care of the rest of the pigeon family before he took a seat to await a potential early arrival with his two sons.Why not? At around 20h45, he quickly checked the speed of the other arrivals and he concluded that it was impossible for the pigeons to fly above 1.100 m/min. And then, the unthinkable happened. A pigeon came like a bullet to land on the roof. 'It's a Barcelona!' After a few seconds, the pigeon entered in the loft to be clocked. It was the first nominated of their team, which was also their first pigeon clocked in the federal race from Dax 3 weeks ago with a top 5 classification in the general result. It was an exciting moment, and their hearts stopped beating for a while. The Cuffel family had just clocked the only pigeon ever to arrive home on the first day of the race. A national winner in full effect, and a potential international winner... The next day, they heard the offical news that the Cuffel family had won the 1st international from Barcelona against 19.083 pigeons. A historic achievement!

A winner with belgian origins

The new fresh international winner is a 100% Belgian pigeon. His parents were both bought from Yvon Deneufbourg from Estinnes, 1st National Champion Extrem Long Distance KBDB 2014. Everything started during the winter 2008 when Gerard Cuffel decided to buy a voucher offered by the great belgian champion. Gerard had heard about this Belgian loft several years ago, and he wanted to learn more about him. This voucher was a good opportunity to visit the loft and to check the quality of the pigeons. Gerard quickly came in contact who Yvon Deneufbourg to let him know that he didn't plan on visiting him in Belgium any time soon but that he was interested in what the champion had to offer. He visited him a few months later and came back home with 4 late breds. Two of them would become the parents of the recent international winner. That's the reason why the winner was first named 'Wallonie' (The Belgian region where Yvon Deneufbourg lives), before being renamed "The Special One" by his new owners (Hugo Batenburg & PIPA Elite Center). This name fits him well, given his recent top result!


The international winner a few hours after his performance. 

Click here to check the pedigree of the international winner.

The Cuffel loft

The colony was built by Gerard in 1972, the patriarch of the family. Nobody from his family was or had been a pigeon fancier but he was fond of birds since his childhood, and pigeons in particular. These pigeons were housed in an aviary but, step by step, he wanted to release them to see them flying in the skies. After he heard about the performances achieved by the racing pigeons, he decided to purchase a few as well. We know the rest of the story. He got maried and his first son Sylvain (36), quickly got interest in the pigeon loft of his father. He took his first licence at the age of 14. The loft has been racing under the name of Cuffel father & son since. A few years later, the duo was completed by Mathieu (19 years), the second son of Gerard who also took his first licence a few years ago. They are now forming a trio. This loft is really a family matter, since Gerard's wife is involved in the loft from time to time as well. Their daughter Eugénie, and her boyfriend are part of the team as well; they sometimes await the pigeons during a race.
As you can see, this family is a real team and everybody has a number of tasks. Gerard takes care of the whole pigeon family each morning while Sylvain take care of the team during the evening. Mathieu runs a team of youngsters and the hens. Gerard's wife and daughter offer a helping hand if needed, and the same applies to his son-in-law.
The racing team consists of 200 old birds that are raced in classic widowhood, which is quite a heavy task. In addition, there is also a team of 60 one year old cocks raced either in classic or total widowhood. To conclude there is also a team of 25 hens, while about 150 youngsters are ringed each year as well.

After they had won almost everything at club, departemental and national level, Gerard decided it was time to compete in the international races a few years ago. Nowadays, they are focused on the long distance and heavy long distance races, Barcelona, Marseille & Perpignan being the most important races on the calendar. For those that have not yet heard about this pigeon family, here is a brief summary of what they already accomplished in these races: 

1st Barcelona international '15 19.083 p.
2nd Perpignan international '03 17.330 p.
3rd Perpignan international '07 14.576 p.
4th Perpignan international '03 17.330 p.
5th Perpignan international '04 17.570 p. 

In addition, they claimed a national victory from Perpignan '04, as well as their international win from Barcelona. There are not many lofts with such a list of achievements.

To be able to shine on the international races, the Cuffel family built their loft on their old breed from which they have been breeding over the past 35 years. You can add to this the lines of the 2nd international Perpignan '03 (100% Tantart), of the 4th international Perpignan '03 and of the 1st national Perpignan '04. These pigeons were transferred to the breeding loft immediately after their performance. 
The Cuffel family is constantly looking for ways to strengthen their loft, which is why several pigeons are purchased every year. The purchase of the Deneufbourg pigeons is a perfect example.

Conclusion

The Cuffel family had just made history thanks to this victory. The pigeon lofts that managed to win the international race from Barcelona will always be something special. The Cuffel family has now joined the Schaschkow brothers and the Deu pigeon family, the two others French lofts that managed to book an international win from Barcelona. Many congratulations!