Van Ouwerkerk – Dekkers, Brasschaat (BE)
Secluded somewhere just outside the busy centre of Brasschaat, the Dutch couple Jacques Van Ouwekerk and his wife Irene Dekkers, find sanctuary amongst their pigeons. Jacques has been mad on pigeons since he was 8 years old, but in those days practised high flying and long flying with a kind of show pigeon. Don't be mistaken! When Jacques tells us that the so-called highflyers can stay in the air from dawn to dusk, then we have nothing but respect for the pigeons and their discipline! They are LITERALLY High Flyers!
We are only laymen concerning long flying, so we ask Jacques if it is possible to breed the long flyers, which can also apparently fly in darkness, with our racing pigeons. The antiques dealer tells openly that he has crossed his Sheffields, which was the sort of long flying pigeons he owned, with his own racing pigeons. With the course the long distance flights are taking, the pigeons have to be able to carry on for many hours and preferably reach home base either late at night or early morning. There are countless night landings in Nederland, but from the Barcelona, which was raced in the same weekend as St. Vincent I/Irun, there was also a so-called night flyer landing in Couvin. It is a dream from Jacques Van Ouwekerk to be able to experience such a thing.
The winning pigeon was christened Mister St. Vincent. It concerns a cock in total widowhood. This pigeon is also a grandson of Miss St. Vincent, who in addition also won the classic for yearlings from St. Vincent. It was a long time ago, in the days before the internet era, but Jacques informs us proudly that he won the then Perpignan classic for yearlings. This apart, where breeding is concerned Van Ouwekerk is right to be proud of the fact that he can couple two national winners. Inbreeding is a strength that he discovered in his time with the longflyers. On the morning of the 7th of July, one first expected the Barcelona pigeons and later (or in between) the yearlings. The pigeons which were intended for Limoges, but liberated in Quiévrain, came home shoddily. When a pigeon landed around 6 o'clock, it was first thought that it was a pigeon from Limoges. There was secretly hoped for a pigeon from Barcelona. It was a great surprise to discover that it was a yearling from Irun! When the electronic ring failed to register, they chased after the pigeon and it was finally clocked at 6h09. In the end it was a head-start victory of approximately 90 m/m ahead of the second pigeon. Jacques Van Ouwekerk is sometimes criticised for the inferior achievements with older pigeons, especially two year olds. This can be perfectly accounted for with two arguments. On the one hand there is a league table drawn up every year for the yearlings after two long distance competitions.
The toppers after these two races are relocated to the breeding loft. Nearly every pigeon can fly a top position once in the long distance, as Van Ouwekerk knows; corroboration is just as difficult en so much more important!. When in each case the most promising yearlings are removed from the team, we can accept they we burn our own fingers. Still, in the short run, the breeding team is strengthened. The second argument is of no less importance. By Van Ouwekerk Dekkers the yearlings remain in the loft where they flew as youngsters. The youngsters go to the national races and therefore have the necessary experience. At the age of two they are suddenly moved to the loft for old pigeons and the move is blamed for the bad results. This is explained by the fact that the three year old pigeons suddenly do much better. It doesn't bother Jacques. And it bothers Irene even less! Jacques likes to talk about the total concept of the sport and doesn't shy away from talking about the things which don't go so well. He is still looking for answers and that is why he is prepared to listen to the opinion of others. But ultimately it is Jacques and Irene who are the champions.
As pigeon fancier we can characterise Jacques Van Ouwekerk as a breeder. He is fanatically busy with the quality and selection of his pigeons. Survival of the fittest as he calls it. With his longflyers he saw that some could fly longer than others. He based his selection on this and tried to hold on to these qualities, and he now does this with his racing pigeons. When we see his achievements list, it certainly seems to be working. The impact from Irene Dekkers on the colony should not be underestimated. She can be described as a very strict carer. The pigeons she enters (she runs part of the colony independently) could be described as tip top and meticulously prepared. The lady herself says everybody complains about losses or the pigeons that don't return home, but my 33 Bordeaux-pigeons, for example, were all home in the evening. As were the three from Irun !. An alert presence pointed out that Dekkers the secret weapon is in the combination. She is without a doubt valuable! Once again the Pipa-team were warmly welcomed by the Van Ouwekerk Dekkers family in Brasschaat. Whoever would like to spend a couple of hours illustriously discussing the pigeons, Jacques van Ouwekerk is to be recommended. We noticed that this combination relies on the vision of a master breeder, a tough selection and fanatical care, with an eye for detail concerning feed and extra's. Jacques and Irene, it was a pleasure to meet you and we'll see you again after the next victory!