Traditionally some fanciers, albeit a small minority, make the mistake of thinking that this Barcelona race can be considered as a game of luck. Luck and coincidence play a part, that is for sure, but entering birds in order to get rid of them? Those days are long gone! Now the best trained and selected birds are waiting at the liberation site, with equal chances for fanciers with large or small lofts. Pigeons with a less keen sense of direction may go missing. One bird may be helped more by chance than another. Finding suitable accommodation for the night with food and water can also have an influence on a possible victory; a victory which can deliver many euros.
The first Barcelona race (according to the records) took place in 1878. 455 pigeons were sent and they were liberated on the 23rd of July at 5 am. The reporter described the weather at the liberation site as beautiful and the first pigeon was clocked two days later. It was very laborious for the other pigeons and a great number were lost.
We found the first publication (race announcement) in a pigeon magazine from 1898, which coincidentally also had the name ‘De Reisduif’ and was published in Ghent. The race was organised by the ‘Le Progrès’ pigeon society in Luik. Unfortunately we couldn't find out how many pigeons participated or who the winner was. It was never mentioned in the magazine again. Cureghem Centre has organised this marathon race now for 89 years. Unfortunately chairman Jan Dons and his board of directors weren't able to provide us with any details concerning this race.
Since 1955 Barcelona has been an international race, with competitors from all over Europe and ever since then it has been a difficult race to win. The reasons being: the distance involved, the problems for the pigeons flying over the Pyrenees, the climate along the race route coupled with the heat, the mistral wind and the often changing depressions in the weather fronts. Many races were open for days and days, but the enormous improvement in weather forecasts in recent years and the increasing duty of care to the birds by the organisers, Cureghem Centre Moeten, means that we have to go back a great number of years to find a real disaster of a race.
The international pigeon sport was turned upside down in 1963 when Mr A. Demaret from Ottignies in Walloon became the international winner from Barcelona for the second time with his slatey cock. Under the pressure of the fortune offered for this bird he sold him to the, at the time, very well known D.D.D. (Daniël Devos from Dikkebus). This bird was used as a stud cock and two years later this loft contained no less than 31 sons and daughters of this Barcelona champion. In 1965 he was sold to a rich Japanese man. André Vanbruaene from Lauwe also managed a double Barcelona winner (1966 and 1984).
The "Vale Bricoux" from Adelin Demaret from Ottignies (58/2106376) is the only bird to have won
international Barcelona twice, namely in 1962 and 1963.
How the Barcelona race went over the last few years can be seen in our exclusive overview and a ranking of the best Barcelona racers over the last few years. Click on the links to open the files: