Helmut & Alfons Klaas (Rietberg, DE): a world famous team thanks to their national and international results

I did not regret my visit to Helmut & Alfons Klaas. Rumours had it that the Klaassen family was no longer racing pigeons in Germany, and that they were only breeding pigeons for One Loft Races. We were also told that most of their pigeons were being basketed abroad.

Alfons (left) and Helmut (right) Klaas

Well, it is true that they are taking part in several One Loft Races, and that many of their pigeons have been very successful in other lofts outside of Germany but there is no reason to believe that they are no longer competing in their home country. Who are the two fanciers behind this successful team? They run a butcher shop in the town of Rietberg-Westerwiehe. Their shop was founded in 1925 and it is currently run by the third generation of Klaas descendants. Helmut (78) and his son Alfons Jr. (51) are passionate pigeon fanciers. They used to compete in the races of RV Rietberg and in neighbouring competitions, where they were quite successful judging by their palmares. Helmust has been a fancier for many years, and he was delighted when his then 7 year old son Alfons decided to get involved as well. It was the start of the Helmut & Alfons Klaas pigeon combination. It is his son Alfons Klaas who is currently running the loft; he is always looking around for talented pigeons to strengthen their existing team. The two fanciers laid the foundation for their current success story around the year 1987, when fellow fanciers Rudi & Agnes Köhne from Aachen were selling a round of their youngsters. Team Klaas was so impressed with these pigeons that they decided to purchase an entire round of eggs of the Köhne breeding loft the following year. Among their most valuable breeding pigeons is breeding pair 0507-88-196 x 0507-89-463. The descendants of the Köhne pigeons were then crossbred with pigeons of Kurt Weitkamp, Hardy Krüger, Bogdan Janoschka, Kerkhofs-Peeters, The Kokartis Brothers, Heribert Klaas and Andreas Drapa. These crossings have allowed the team to achieve many great results in recent years, and have enabled them to create a specific type of racing bird, with the ability to win races.

Their rise to international fame

Helmut and Alfons Klaas became world famous thanks to their results in the One Loft Races. They would compete in these races with only a limited number of pigeons, as opposed to some fanciers who send in 100 or more pigeons just to get in the spotlight. The Klaas pigeons have won the South African Million Dollar Race, the world's most famous One Loft Race, twice. This is quite an achievement on its own. 

A winning streak in the South African One Million Dollar Races

Let's take a closer look at how the winning streak of Team Klaas in the One Loft Races started. They claimed a first prize in the 11th Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race 2007 with Konstantin, 0507-06-860, which comes from breeding pair 0507-03-994 x 0507-96-660. The 998 is a son of Ass des Schlages 0507-97-180 paired to 0507-01-123, from the loft of Steenbergen-Kösters. The 180 won 12 prizes in 13 races in Germany in 1999, winning 1,070 ace points. Several grandchildren of this breeding cock have finished in the top 100 in different races. Breeding hen 660, the dam of Konstantin, comes from stock sire Tim paired to stock dam Konstance. The prize money for the 2007 race amounted to 200,000US$, and many were wondering if the fanciers would be able to win the race a second time.

They claimed another victory in the 15th Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race in 2011: the Kitchenbrand Lofts won the first prize with Viktor, which is another Helmut & Alfons Klaas pigeon.

The 15th Sun City Million Dollar Race took off on Saturday the 22nd of January 2011 at 7:35am, to cover 526km in Hopetown in a slight headwind and a temperature of 22 degrees. A small group of pigeons managed to break away from the main pack of 2,575 pigeons from the very start. We cannot tell if these pigeons were also the first at the finish line. The first pigeon arrived home in Sun City after a race of about 9 hours, and that pigeon was Victor, clocked at 16:37'03". It had been bred by Helmut and Alfons Klaas, and it belonged to the Kitchenbrand lofts. The two lofts obviously agreed to share the 200,000 US$ prize money. An additional three pigeons of Helmut and Alfons Klaas managed to win a prize in that race.

The sire of Victor is Contador 0507-03-577 and his dam is Naomie 0507-08-980. Contador was bred from Pantani 0507-95-511 and he too originates from the stock bloodlines of Tim x Konstance, which we talked about already. His dam Naomie comes from a half brother of Konstantin paired to Juwelchen 01769-07-100 of Andreas and Walter Drapa, bred from Carl x Tochter Maya. Quite a pedigree!

The third success story in the Million Dollar Pigeon Race in South Africa came on 25th of January 2014, with another impressive result for the team of Helmut & Alfons Klaas. 3,478 pigeons were still in the race on the day of the final, and they were released at 6 o'clock in the morning ready to cover 661km. It proved a very difficult race but the winning bird eventually arrived back home at 15:43'49". This pigeon belonged to the German fancier Karl Ziefle. The second pigeon arrived home just two minutes later but the other birds spent a lot more time finding their way back home. A pigeon of Helmut and Alfons Klaas called Alfonso Jun finished in 16th place at 16:58'20", more than an hour after the first prize winner. The second and third Klaas pigeons were Hurrikan and Hasty, and they claimed a 44th and 46th prize respectively. 53 pigeons had made it back home by the end of the first day, including three pigeons of Helmut & Alfons. No other fancier had three pigeons back in the loft on the first day, which shows that the Klaas pigeons were in sensational form. No other fancier has come close to this result, even though some so-called champions would basket large numbers of pigeons for these races. Some had started the race with 50, 60, 70 or even more racing birds.

These results show once again that the Klaas racing bird is a highly capable pigeon.

These three races clearly show that the Klaas pigeon breed is an exceptionally talented family. All the pigeons in this breed originate from a top class bloodline; the partner is usually closely related and then crossbred. The pigeon family of Helmut & Alfons Klaas is really a pigeon breed on its own. It was created in 1987/1988 and was further refined over the course of many years by introducing special new pigeons into the team. It is a pigeon family with no equal.

Alfons in front of one of his lofts

Championships in RV Rietberg and in the union

Father & son Klaas have continued to compete in their own club, in the union and in the region, where they have been really successful. They won no less than 36 first prizes in RV Rietberg between 2011 and 2016. 

Let's have a look at their palmares of 2015.

Championships 2015:
1st Champion RV
1st Champion RV yearlings
1st Champion RV hens
1st Champion RV short distance
1st Champion „Die Brieftaube“
1st Champion  yearlings ranking
2nd Champion Union FG-Meister (with the same no. of prizes as the first: 58)
1st Champion Union with the 3 fastest pigeons per race from 40 nominated
1st Best hen in the Union
1st Best yearling in the yearlings ranking
Best Cock in the RV: 3rd, 13th, 28th
Best Hen in the RV: 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th
Best one year old hen in the RV: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 9th
2nd Champion RV

The boxes for the hens in widowhood

Results of 2016:

It goes without saying that you cannot deliver the same results every single year. Keep in mind Alfons Klaas works in the family's butcher shop during the day, and that his father is less involved than he used to be due to his age. Long story short, the 2016 season was not their best year. Still, they were able to win a number of early prizes in the longer races this season:

06.6.2016 Bar le Duc (413 km): 1st prize of 5,811 pigeons with a 6 min. lead (0507-14-852)
19.6.2016 Bar le Duc (413 km): 2nd prize of 5,172 pigeons (07086-14-421)
03.7.2016 Bar le Duc (413 km): 4th prize of 4,542 pigeons (0507-15-363)
16.7.2016 Sens (546 km): 3rd prize of 3,324 pigeons (0507-14-905).
The 905 comes from a daughter of 0507-10-1024, 
                winner of a first prize from Gien of 3,376 pigeons from Gien (620km) on 29th of July 2012.

The 2016 young birds' season was a great success.
20.8.2016 Meckenheim (170 km) 7,745 p.: 4th, 4th, 6th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th etc.
03.9.2016 Echternach (265 km) 6,908 p.: 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 44th etc.
24.9.2016, Etain (347 km) 2,487 ybs.: 2nd, 3rd, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 23rd, 35th, 36th, 38th, 38th, 40th, 42nd,
                                         45th, 45th etc.

The Klaas pigeons had to compete in six different young birds' races: Buchholz (148 km), Meckenheim (170 km), Dahlem (208 km), Echternach (265 km) and twice Dudelange (310 km). This is quite a demanding schedule for a German loft but the young birds were up for the job. They were among the best pigeons in their club RV Rietberg, winning a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th place. All 13 young birds have managed to win six prizes in all six races!

And we should not forget the race from London on 6th of August 2016. It is a race that deviates significantly from the usual flight lines. But more on that in a following report, in which we take a more detailed look at the abilities of the Klaas pigeon breed.