Hundreds of fanciers attended this year's Algarve Golden Race final on 30th of September

The final of the Algarve Golden Race took place on Saturday 30th of September. This event traditionally attracts huge crowds and this year was no exception. A large number of pigeons took to the start line as well: the race had a total of 5,095 competitors, 2,624 of which would make it through to the final. The closing race was won by Claudia Schwarm from Germany.

Many big names

The Algarve Golden Race continues to gain in popularity. We cannot tell if this has to do with the delicious (and affordable) food, the beautiful surroundings, or the fact that the race takes place right after a very busy racing season. Apparently the sunny weather in Portugal at this time of year draws many renowned pigeon fanciers to the Algarve area every season. And the popularity of the race translates in a high number of competing pigeons and players, with a total of 5,095 pigeons and 1,737 fanciers respectively. These are excellent numbers, especially when taking into account the total number of pigeons in the final: 2,624. "This was a large field of pigeons from some of the world's best pigeon fanciers. It explains why we will soon be selling the entire top-30 of the final race on PIPA", says Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, CEO of PIPA. And several of these fanciers happen to be good friends of Nikolaas, including Ludo Claessens and David Madeira.

Many familiar faces at the Algarve Golden Race (foto Chris Sutton)

Large crowds gathered for the final race again this season (foto Chris Sutton)

A German winner

The release site in Bragança in the north of Portugal was shrouded in mist, and so the pigeons were released from a different location on 30 September, reducing the distance from 505 to 496km. The pigeons were released a bit later in the day as well, at 11:50am, after which the pigeons returned home in temperatures of around 25°C and with a slight northwesterly tailwind. The first four pigeons arrived home at 6:41pm; they had followed the shortest route and they looked remarkably fresh still. German pigeon fancier Claudia Schwarm eventually took the win, taking home 100,000€. Her winning pigeon was closely followed by a bird of Team Helios Bücher & Gehrken (Switzerland), Team Greg (Slovakia) and Team Lang-Jökel-Wirthmann (Germany). A pigeon of M. Schoordijk (The Netherlands) claimed a fifth prize three minutes later. A total of 70 pigeons were clocked on the first day, and the ace pigeon title and the car were won by Syndicate Lofts from Great Britain.

Claudia Schwarm from Germany wins the Algarve Golden Race 2017

Claudia Schwarm's first prize winner for the Algarve Golden Race 2017

The second prize winner in the Algarve Golden Race 2017 for Team Helios-Bücher & Gehrken

The winner of the third prize in the Algarve Golden Race 2017 for Team Greg

Peter Fox of Syndicate Lofts wins the ace pigeon competition and the car

1st Ace Pigeon Algarve Golden Race 2017 for Syndicate Lofts

Team Greg in full swing

Germany shows once again to be the leading country in one loft racing, winning a first and fourth prize in this year's final. But we also saw a great performance from the Slovakian fanciers of Team Greg. They claimed a second place in the Derby Arona in Tenerife, Spain earlier this season, and they claimed a second place in the final of the Algarve Great Derby on 23rd of September, before claiming their third spot in a final in the Algarve Golden Race on 30th of September. This means Team Greg won three top three places in a single season, making them one of the if not the best fanciers in the one loft racing circuit. Their pigeon breed might soon enable other fanciers to excel as well, since Team Greg sold the dam of their 2nd Algarve Great Derby winner on PIPA last week, along with the grandmother of their 3rd Algarve Golden Race winner.

Looking back

Race organiser Rui Emidio and loft manager Rogerio Germano can look back on another highly successful edition of the Algarve Golden Race. "Not everyone was happy with the race though: some fanciers were very disappointed with their result", Rui says in jest. Those fanciers can now start to take preparations to make next year's race a great success, because the organisers are working hard and there is always a great atmosphere.

Race organiser Rui Emidio (l) and loft manager Rogerio Germano (r) (photo Chris Sutton)