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Boonen Johan ( Buggenum – NL ) 1st National Barcelona 4.919 old birds Holland

12 Jul 2021

‘Caatje’ takes care of Gold on Barcelona for Johan Boonen out of Buggenum ! 

What would Barcelona 2021 be like was the question asked upfront? There were already big changes before the race. This is how for example that Barcelona had been a race from Cureghem Centre since decades. When would they have started organizing this race? About 60 to 70 years ago? But now from 2021 Barcelona is in hands of the ‘Belgische Verstandhouding’ (Entente Belge) and organizes the race both in Belgium as internationally. For an outsider it is guessing why but from ‘outside’ we did notice some signs of decay. The own website from Cureghem Centre isn’t kept up-to-date for a while now and no results of the resent editions from 2019 and 2020. The choosing of a new releasing point had become the last years a ‘strange’ case always bigger distances and releasing points that would go inland more and more. Doesn’t Cureghem Centre have any more man who are capable to run it and lead it straight? How it all might be, Barcelona and Cureghem Centre were a two-unit, a monument withing pigeon sport. A monument we have to treasure and be careful with. But it has to function well and has to go along with the years. How many times didn’t we used to see the photos from the homages for Barcelona who took place in the Constant Vandenstock stadium from Anderlecht in Brussels. This was always a very descent happening and a place where you liked to be honoured. The restaurant that was there has closed her doors by now also and the stadium is called ‘Lotto Park’ by now. But we don’t have to stand still and be sad about it and have to go full forward. Barcelona 2021 got a new releasing point, a bit northern from Barcelona and gives a shorter racing distance.  As the new releasing point is a bit more Eastern, the distance for the western living fanciers has decreased a bit less than the once that live in the East. The race has become about 47 to 52 km shorter than in 2020 and this is already quite a bit. The race is already difficult and though enough.                                                                  And after two days of postponing the pigeons went on Sunday the 11th of July at 6u45 in the air from their new releasing point in the village Vilanova del Vallès that you can find about 20km north from Barcelona and a bit Eastern. Under perfect condition they could be released and on the satellite views you could see that the pigeons could race under a cloudless sky until half of France. And the temperature wouldn’t race a lot in France at noon but stay around 23 degrees centigrade and striking it was in Holland the same temperature or even warmer. The wind in France came a bit out of Eastern direction and would be like this for the biggest part of the racing route. The neutralisation time would be set on Sunday at 22h53 and from 6h45 this gives a racing time of 16 hours and 8 minutes. And seen the shortest distances in France is about 880km a reasonable amount of pigeons could be clocked at the same day. A speed of 55km/h or 916m/m would be feasible at the minimum? But predictions within pigeon sport is a lot of the time a very though case, especially on Barcelona. 

NL 19-1084759 “Caatje” Blauwe Duivin
1st National Barcelona 4.919 old birds Holland

Clocked time : 07:14:57
Distance : 1112,6km
Average speed : 1020 m/min


With huge team the brother Boonen went to Barcelona. Johan got to the start with 33 pigeons and Johan with 32 pigeons. The 33 were divided in 11 widow cocks, 3 nest cocks and 19 nest hens. And the national gold was won by the 2-year old nest hen NL19-1084759 who got the name ‘Caatje’ after her victory. And this is named after the wife of Johan who is called Carin but Johan calls her a lot of the time ‘Caatje’ as well. The hen left on youngsters that were 2 to 3 days old to Barcelona and her last race this year was Limoges and also on that race she had prize in the district namely 27th against 143 pigeons while this wasn’t a provincial prize anymore. Coincidence or not, on Limoges she left as 1st signed. After that Limoges they tossed the pigeons a lot. Sometimes 3 times in the weekends and this on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and the nest pigeons always went along. The most far releasing point was Sankt Vith that is situated in the Belgian province of Liege close to Luxembourg and Germany. They wanted to keep on that Eastern line keeping in mind the races out of Marseille, Barcelona and Narbonne. The pedigree from ‘Caatje’ is a surprise. Her father was a cock from 2015 who was bought from Lothar Lessmeister out of the German city Hütschenhausen. He is a son ‘Evita’ who won in 2016 the 1st National Barcelona in Germany and that was good for a 7th prize on an international level. This ‘Evita’ was bred out of a pigeon from Kipp and son and a pigeon from Theo Ernest from Halsteren. In 2016 Lothar Lessmeister won the 1st international Barcelona and the winner of this race was 6 years old and her father was a brother to ‘Evita’.  This Lessmeister-cock isn’t in possession of Johan and Wil anymore as not that long ago they decided to sell him via the site of Herbots. At a certain moment choices have to be made and the breeding team can’t keep on growing. The mother to ‘Caatje’ is also from foreign offspring and she comes from Francois Callebaut out of the Belgian city Meldert (positioned between Lummen and Diest). They got into contact with this fancier due to a taken in pigeon. Francois Callebout caught a youngster from Johan and called for it. As thanks the brothers gave him a couple of eggs. And a bit later gave Francois Callebaut them a youngster out of his best long distance pigeon from his loft namely ‘de Bonten’ who raced in 2016 really early out of Marseille an Montélimar. And the mother to ‘Caatje’ is from the year that her father raced really early prizes. And this hen is still on the breeding loft in Buggenum. Striking enough Johan didn’t had any idea anymore where Francois lived. 

First pigeons 

How many participators from Barcelona wouldn’t have looked at the results lists the past Sunday evening and Monday morning? For the Dutch fanciers it is first the list from PIPA for the international clockings. And from France with a shortest distance of 880km and in Germany with a shortest distance around 930km the first once could be expected. But is this also the case? The earliest pigeon was clocked at 20h39 from the French village Heutrégiville and had an average speed of 1051 m.p.m. One minute later at 20h40 a pigeon was clocked in the French village Rollot which had to race 17km longer and had a speed of 1070 m.p.m.. Then 3 at about the same time clocked at Ludovic Guirado out of Saint Nicolas d’Aliermont and this village is situated around the coast place Dieppe almost at the channel in the high north of France. Ludovic clocked no less than 3 pigeons at 20h45, 20h54 and 20h56. On almost 929km his pigeons were classified at speeds 1105, 1093 and 1091 m.p.m. At the bigger distances at the French coast more early pigeons were clocked but couldn’t exceed these speeds. But about 1,5 hour after the first pigeon from Ludovic Guiroda another French pigeon took care of a big surprise. In the northern point of France at 1048km clocked Robert Ben in Calais at 22h18 and his pigeon came in front of the ranking with a speed of 1118 m.p.m. And in Calais they are 100km more Western than the most Western point of Holland in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. The fancier  Robert Ben is known off course of his ‘Super Ben’ and this cock from 1998 shined 4 years on the races from Barcelona and Perpignan. In his pedigree is mainly Dutch long distance blood to be found.                                        On Sunday evening two Belgian pigeons were classified but later one got over it and this one was clocked in Peche, just beneath Charleroi and this one will win the 13th International. Before a Duthc fancier would clock a Barcelona pigeon they had to wait until Monday. Nevertheless that there was a Dutch fancier that clocked on Sunday evening and this was Willem Van Breene at 21h04. He lives in the French village Saint Germain du Pert and this is the village at the Normandie coast and the area where D-Day in June 1944 took place and the allied troops came on land to get the Germans out. Willem van Breene lives there in the West and his pigeon will win at a speed of 1049 m.p.m. the 19th International Barcelona. Willem van Breene is from Driebergen and was until last year a part of the NPO-board. With the Eastern wind it seemed possible to clock an early pigeon over there. In the evening already 36 French pigeons clocked.

Dutch Gold.

At what time we could expect the first Dutch Barcelona racers? An extra night out and stop racing must press the speed? No pigeons that would take on some extra racing time with these kind of weather conditions in the neutralisation time and have their speed increased on paper? The neutralisation time 22h53 until 5h12 and between 5 and 6 only one pigeon as clocked. In Holland the first Barcelona pigeon was clocked at 7h14 in Buggenum. Johan Boonen didn’t see her coming there her loft is behind another loft and Johan can’t always see those pigeons get in. On his Unikon system he got the announcement and this when he just saw that no other Dutch pigeon was clocked yet. So this had to be an early one! It was the 2-year old nest hen NL19-10984759 who really speeded up on Barcelona. At a distance of 1112km she came at a speed of 1020 m.p.m. But when you are in Limburg at the top of the ranking of the ZLU it is always waiting if there’s going to be a faster pigeon and especially on Barcelona this was the case more than once. One hour later (8h13) Cor de Heijde clocked in Made while he is 29 km further and with a speed of  993 m.p.m. he would eventually have national silver while he has first one two price pigeons where the second pigeons was clocked 20 minutes later (8h33). In the ‘real’ after flight it was Kees Niesten in the North-Holland Uitgeest and Frans Hummelink out of Vorden two really early pigeons. And Frans Hummelink only basketed one pigeon. Also with 1 pigeon basketed the combination ten Cate from Hattemerbroek had on a distance of 1245 km prize 17 and Bernard Brouwer in Breda prize 21 pure head prizes. And on Barcelona there are always many eyes directed on Jelle Jellema who at a distance of 1241 km in Nijverdal again 2 national top 10 pigeons clocked at 10h07 and 10h23.

Brothers Boonen

When seeing the name Boonen at the top of the ranking we have to think straight away of fancier Boonen who also had a striking victory two years ago on a ZLU race. It is known that there are 2 brothers Boonen in Buggenum race on the extreme long distance. But it is now the same guy from 2019 that wins 2021? No, now it is Johan Boonen who wins the most beautiful extreme long distance race of the year and in 2019 it was brother Wil Boonen that won national Marseille. Johan and Wil Boonen come from Neer where they raced for years with their father Loet and an uncle in combination . In their club ‘Phoenix’, they made it to General Champion. And father Loet was also a real union mand and was no less than 40 years president of the p.v. Tot Ziens. In 2017 father Loet passed away and the brothers Johan and Wil both moved to Buggenum. Wil bought in 2001 a house and Johan followed in 2008. Wil is there almost the neighbour of Jan Theelen and Johan moved to the street where Jan Theelen had is bar ‘Oppe Berg’. And that bar was for years the place to be for pigeon fanciers. First of all for pigeons of Jan himself but also as many auctions were held in those years. On the website of the brothers we can read: “From 2010 started with a mission. This mission was excel on the international races with as main goal Barcelona. To reach this a lot was invested on quality. As base pigeons from Ton Vorselen from Thorn were bought. This pigeons are as a red wire throughout our current colony. As accomplishment we also bought pigeons at several top racers. Such as for example: Rogier Nijs in Tegelen, comb. Nouwen-Paesen in Peer (Belgium), comb Janssens-Hausoul in Epen, comb. Schreurs-Hauben in As (Belgium) and Jos Martens in Stein. Striking is that the brother race their own colony but have a common breeding loft, they consult each other always and also hang out together all the time. 


Racing team

Johan started the season with 35 widow cocks and 22 cocks and 40 hens on nest. Before the season the nest pigeons weren’t coupled anymore and they were trained separated. For the first long distance race they were coupled and brought onto nest. And with a full time job and the maintenance and racing of such a colony isn’t simple and this is the case for Johan but also for Will who is single and also has to take care of the household by himself. On the noon releases Johan only races 2 old widow cocks who earned their place already really well on this discipline. Both cocks had this year on St. Vincent a prize and gave Johan a 100% score. Both went to Dax with loft mates who would go to St.Vincent ZLU. One out of the two won again a prize on Dax and if we believe the ring numbers they are already 8 and 6 years old!
Off course is Barcelona the race of the year for Johan and Will. And by winning the national race against 4,819 pigeons a dream surely will come true. But Johan also told that he would like to have more prizes. Johan clocked another early one at 8h51 who will win the 33rd prize and got his 3rd pigeon at 11h10. At 18h11 he had his 7th pigeon home. Brother will had at 17h50 already 11 in the clock out of the 32. The food come from Simons out of Ransdaal and also the products from Belgica-de Weerd are from there. Johan gives Koopman all in one and Gerry Plus with as desert some peanuts. For all health matters they go to Norbert Peeters bezocht and can also go there in the evening hours which is an advantage for those who have to work during daytime. Before a long distance race they get a 5 day cure against ornithes followed by a yellow pill the day before basketing and a vitamin pill from Vanhee and they get this also at the day of arrival.

On Monday the 12th of July Johan had to ask for an extra day off at his boss. The pigeons from Barcelona would arrive that day. And how marvellous can you day bet when you have to give your pigeon a special name because she wins the 1st national Barcelona. And all of a sudden, Johan has 2 Caatjes in house where he is proud of and probably loves a lot ! 

Ad van Gils