This was only possible by first enduring some additional training flights from both locations on the island Tenerife and an additional endurance race from Gran Canaria prior to the Semifinal and eventual Final race.
The Final assault from Fuerteventura would incorporate not just an approx. distance of around 280 klm, but a route that for the first time would see the finalists having to overcome two open stretches of open Atlantic waters prior to coming onto and in Tenerife and onwards to the loft.
With Covid-19 having such an unprecedented effect on most activities worldwide the Derby Arona one loft race also found themselves impacted and as such brought on the suspension of training and racing until Spain relaxed movements and activities and above all the tourist trade which the islands depends on so badly.
With so many travel implications in place in regards to international travel the team arranged for the first weekend in July to stage this year’s final which also coincided with the date that limits would be relaxed and therefore enabled local fanciers and dignitaries to be present to oversee proceedings, this date also made it possible for international travel to recommence and therefore if fanciers were willing, allowed the opportunity to travel to Tenerife to join the team at the loft on the day and congratulate this year’s winners on their arrival home.
Team Belgium and Team Wales fanciers made the journey to Tenerife for the Final Race.
Basketing day, this again, was proven to be a strange affair as in previous years many fanciers would congregate at the lofts to see the entries being marked along with having the opportunity of handling their pigeons for the first time since sending them to the lofts as babies.
With social distancing again as protocol the team offered the worldwide audience the chance to see each pigeon being processed via the livestream feed with clearly showed the marking and stamping of each individual along with a close up photo of its general condition prior to being basketed, as you can gather with 541 pigeons going into the final this would take some time and some seven hours later as the final pigeon was officially entered the baskets were sealed the unique wing stamp was destroyed and the complete basketed list was displayed.
With marking over and the pigeons and baskets sealed under the scrutiny of an outside independent security firm the entries duly departed from the loft for the first leg of the journey to the north of the island to board the late evening crossing to Gran Canaria, upon disembarking for the next leg which would cover the drive across the island to reach the second sea crossing to Fuerteventura and on arrival, it was then time for the Final leg down to the liberation site, where they arrived and after a light fed and a fresh supply of water applied the birds were left to settle for the evening.
Race day and the excitement started to build both at the liberation and at the loft it was reassuring as a small number of guests made their arrival in Tenerife and whilst it was such a big drop in visitors then previous years everything was in place to provide yet another thrilling event .
With news from the liberation site indicating from Abel indicating all was well on site and the sun was slowly rising from early dawn over Fuerteventura the strings were cut releasing this years finalists into a light north easterly wind and temperature of around 22 degrees set to rise to over 30 by midday when the pigeons were expected to make their arrival on Tenerife.
With the pigeons airborne everyone was poised for what could be a thrilling but uncertain race as this was the first time they had covered this flight path due to a change in the race program this year which was announced pre entry period.
Throughout the morning, the traditional live Spanish film crew were present at the loft filming early as they tried to cover all movements and expectations recording the day’s proceedings including some interviews and best wishes messages from those who were attending.
As the morning went on the Arona team in all fairness tried to stage the race in the familiar and exciting manner as they’ve done previous years with complementary food and drinks feely supplied and on such a warm day this was surelyappreciated by those present.
As the three hour period came and past and with temperatures reported to have exceeded 30 degrees at the loft the team were confident that if they had orientated well on liberation and made a good line then they would be well on course and predicted to by such time to be approaching Tenerife’s the team and those present prepared to welcome the first arrivals and crown the 2020 Derby Arona winner with life changing sum of 120,000 euro 1st prize.
With the clock ticking away and all eyes by now pierced to the sky, the almighty cry of "PALOMA" followed by the sound of the whistlepiercing the area indicated that a small batch of pigeons had been spotted coming in from the east directly on line.
As the first birds consisting of around deign ten to fifteen pigeons dropped into the loft area everyone joined the Arona team outside to await the announcement and winner of this year Derby Arona Final on the digital reader position high above the location.
Taking Top honours and duly crowned winner of the 2020 Derby Arona Final we go to the Netherlands with Team Soepboer with pigeon “MELLS” coming home at 220.127.116.11, the winning pigeon over the early training race made several appearances in the top percentage however over the past weeks it’s maintained a steady average position with the top three hundred and with a further improvement in the Semifinal taking 116th position.
With just decimals now dividing the Top positions as the birds entered the trap taking 2nd International and the 20,000 runner up prize, we go to team Austria with pigeon “Kagava” entered by Team Kutlesa coming in on 11.26.00.00 this is another pigeon which has made a steady progression through the later training races with a number of positions including 85th, 94th & 45th with 193 in the Final Endurance Race prior to 347th in the Semifinal.
Taking the 3rd and 4th International positions and the prize funds of 15.000 and 10,000 we go back to the winning nation of the Netherlands as Team Lorenzo Van Russel with pigeon “Trevo” narrowly takes the higher of the two with a time of 11.26.00.30 resulting in Team De Bruin BV an pigeon “Maifeuer” taking 4th 11,26,00.85
Taking the honours for team England and 5th International with a 9,000 bonus sum we have Team Glevum with their arrival “Amal” coming in on 11.26.01.00 holding into 6th place Team Luckyspil with pigeon “Sieg” claiming a prize of 8,000 €.
Armando Soto Racing Team from Mexico became 7,000€ richer taking 7th place with pigeon “Luigi” recording its arrival at 11,26,03,00, Alexander Gebel for team Germany takes 8th International as pigeon “Atlantic 357” not only takes a leading position but also confirms with today’s performance winning the Atlantic King of Sprint Averages with a time of 11.26.03.40., for the next two positions we come to the UK and team England with pigeon “I’ll be there” for W & S Sweet rounding off a great series for them and their team of pigeons as they collect the 5,000 euro prize with a time of 11.26.03.60, rounding off the Top Ten and the final major prize with 4,000 euro we see new participants Tinks Treasures Syn (Mark & Sue Ward) taking the 10th International position with a time of 11.26.04.60
With a blanket finish covering the leaders the top five winners will each collect the converted trophies diplomas and like all the remaining Top Ten each will receive medals certificates and of course for the Top Ten winners each will also receive the much sort after gold pigeon rings.
Lorenzo Van Russell Netherlands and pigeon “Trevo” 3rd International Final Race
Whilst the Top Ten pigeons were congratulated as the main winners in amongst them there were a few more arrivals but unfortunately following a moment’s hesitation on the trapping board resulted in them having to settle for positions 11th to 15th each receive a reward for their efforts of 1000 euro this being in 11th Team JDR OLR England and pigeon “Bailey”, 12th Team O a steadyprogression P.S.S.S. and pigeon “Jang 65” Belgium, 13th Jozef Kovacs pigeon “Tibike 1”, 14th team Russia with Syn OLR Moskov and pigeon “Ralky” and 15th Team R.CH for Slovakia with pigeon “Tango”.
The prizes continue for 16th to 20th as each will also receive a reward of 500€ in 16th we go to team Chez Republic with pigeon “Reaper” for Team Heglas, 17th Team Fuchs from Austria take 17th, Team Black Gold from the USA take 18th with pigeon “Lease Holder” whilst 19th goes to team Slovakia with pigeon “Anna” for Team BCHB and finally in 20th we go to Team Colombia with pigeon “Marcia”.
Team De Bruin DV Netherlands 4th International Derby Arona Final pigeon “Maifeuer”
With the top twenty covered and rewarded the prize fund goes on for pigeons that have returned upto 100th as pigeons from 21st to 30th would each receive 400€ followed by 31st to 50th take 100 euro per arrival rounding off the total prize fund with pigeons 51 to 100 taking a share with 50 euro each.
With this year’s race being so challenging in light of it being the first time the birds had to face the double Atlantic jump along with the heat and humidity which they faced during the day some 115 pigeons had made the journey home by nightfall and with a few more on days two and three these brought the returns rate of 32% as 170 pigeons were perched when the clocks were switched off.
With the clocks off it was time to calculate the averages which were quietly running and altering on a daily basis as the races progressed and as such the first of the two is the King of Sprint a competition which runs from the first race from 3klm to the last race of 280 klm taking the honor with 1st International Average and winner of the Average trophy and 2,000 euro is Team Pawel Orlowski with pigeon “Anastasia” in 24 races accumulated 106,790pts runner up trophy winner and 1,000 euro goes to team England and Team G & G Termo Boys with pigeon G G Turmo on 10,5348pts resulting in 3rd going to team slovakia, with Team Jurica taking the 3rd with a trophy and 250 euro.
Team G G Termo England runners up King of Sprint Average winners and pigeon G G Turmo
Also running is the King of the Atlantic Averages this is a competition that covers all races from the neighboring islands of Gran Canaria up to and including the Final Race from Fuerteventura taking the Top honours of first International is Team Alexander Gebel from Germany with pigeon “Atlantic 357” concluding the series with an 8th position in the Final Race securing the top honour with 2,000 euro and the winner’s trophy with 76.050, taking the runner up trophy and 1,000 euro prize were the Welsh Hopefuls Syn as the name says representing team Wales with pigeon “Roxys back” on 74235pts leaving the 3rd place and 250 euro we have Team Slovakia Syn Sadlak Vendelin & Andrej with pigeon “Super 62” on 73120.
With the race winners covered the averages highlighted there was one competition remaining that being the knock out competition and with such high percentages of knockout pigeons still competing in the competitionas we go to the final it was a good winner of both the race an knock for pigeon “Mells” and the Team Soepboer claiming an additional 3,000 euro prize.
So finally after a four month delay the derby Arona Team have now succeeded in completing this years race series it’s been a troublesome year what with extreme “calima” episodes and of course the worldwide pandemic of Covid-19, however the job is done!
So with the 2020 champions crowned we can now take a few weeks rest and prepare for the arrival of the new inmates for the 2020/21 race series, so on behalf of myself, the Derby Arona Team and Ledesma’s family we once again thank you for your patience and understanding during the past months.
As we move onto the next series it’s regrettable that due to the lack of movement and construction within the Spanish boundaries the new loft construction, in the new location will now become available for the 2021/22 intake, as you can imagine this has come as a major blow to the Arona organization as they initially planned to invite fanciers to the location this year... but thankfuly as the island slowly gets back to some sort of normality the future seems a lot brighter now and the team can now make progress and ensure the build goes as planned and any issues or alterations can be addressed a full year before the intake of pigeons next year.
Some fanciers making the most of the situation watching at home with livestream facilities
Thank you for your participation from the Ledesma family, let’s do it again in 2020/21
On a personal note once again I would like to thank Jose and Arona Team for inviting me to cover their 2019/20 race series and all that have followed the reports throughout the extended year, the race is clearly growing in numbers annually as more fanciers around the world look at taking on the challenge of the ATLANTIC OCEAN, the completion of the new loft I’m sure will also play a major factor in its growth in future years, so until next time, best wishes and good luck in the next “DERBY ARONA ONE LOFT RACE the hardest race in the world”