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Rutger Jan Rittersma, Zuidlaren (Groningen) wins 1st National Perpignan.

11 Aug 2021

The ZLU-program was closed with the international race out of Perpignan. We saw this season on all ZLU races and now also again on Perpignan, an increase of the number of basketed pigeons. This is how in Holland in 2020 3,354 pigeons were basketed for this race and this year it were no less than 4,871 pigeons. An increase with 1,517 pigeons. On the international level we also see the increase in numbers and had in total 13,262 pigeons at the start as this was in 2020 11,209 pigeons. More and more fanciers that focus on the marathon races are competing on these international races. The ZLU is obviously going strong. 

Pigeons out of England 
It has probably strook the readers that on the former ZLU races no pigeons from the English fanciers were basketed. The ‘why’ was guessing a bit and almost everybody thought it was due to the Corona rules and the pigeon traffic into Holland, Belgium or France. On this Perpignan we do see that English pigeons competed and this with 42 pieces. The explanation from Yvan Eeckhout, secretary of the Belgische Verstandhouding, about how this happened is interesting. You can read all about it on the site of the ZLU. The first English pigeon was clocked at 7h36 for a distance of 959km. 

Weather circumstances 
Last year the weather in South-France was of this kind that the release was postponed from Friday to Saturday. But it stayed so bad that the organizer decided together with the Sports director of the KBDB to release on the parking of Salle Joseph Iche in Rieux-Minervois, to be found in the area of Carcassonne.

This year the weather predictions were better and could be released on Friday morning at 7h30. The weather at the releasing point was good without any clouds and a temperature of about 22°C. On the flight line an increasing wind out of the South-West. A possible rain shower wasn’t excluded that day. Also during the arrival of the pigeons there were some rain showers here and there, but all taking in consideration the race went well and on Saturday morning around the clock of 7 the race was closed on the shortest distances. 

The first announcements in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. 
It was a bit before 18h when the first pigeon arrived in France. Jean-Louis Fumiere from Beaurevoir, a bit northern to Saint Quentin, clocked a pigeon at 17h45 for a distance of 822km and had an average speed of 1335 m/min. Good for the international victory. Soon another pigeon came in Germany where the known family Kipp und Söhne from Althornbach clocked a pigeon at 18h05 over a distance of 807km and this for a speed of 1270 m/min. Also out of Belgium arrivals were noted and the fastest of them was clocked Luc Colement from Genk. Over a distance of 947km he clocked at 19h32 and would have an average speed of 1310 m/min. In Luxemburg the first arrival was at 18h24 and was done by Fränk Rohen from Bivange, South of the capital Luxemburg. Over a distance of 808km his pigeons had a speed of 1235 m/min.

The first Dutch announcements
In Holland they could start calculating. Where would the first announcement come from. Seen the spread arrivals in France, Germany and Belgium it could be everywhere in the Southern provinces.  The ZLU-site was being watched really well from then on. Hopefully the local rain showers wouldn’t mess things up for the first arriving pigeons. 
It was Geert Schmitz out of the Limburg village Simpelveld who appeared as first on the list. Over a distance of 943km he clocked his first pigeons at 19h55 at a speed of 1265 m/min. Soon a pigeon was clocked at Hub Joosten, Grathem who had a pigeon at 20h at a speed of 1304 m/min. It would take another hour when Jay Lissenberg from Utrecht at 1069 km clocked a pigeon at 21h at a speed of 1318 m/min. This one would stay at the top of the list until Saturday morning. Saturday morning Jan Rittersma from Zuidlaren (Groningen) clocked his pigeon. Over a distance of 1198km it gave a speed of  1324 m/min. And this meant that he would win Perpignan National. International it would be the 2nd and also the 1st hen international. 

Watching throughout the night.
Rutger had full confidence in his five pigeons which he had basketed for Perpignan. One of them could get home really early, even at night is what he thought. So he didn’t go to sleep and walked in and out, smoked a cigarette, drank some coffee and looked often to the loft to see nothing had arrived yet. This is also what he did around 6 o’clock. He went over to the loft to look at the clock. When he turned around he saw a pigeon coming and dropped with a turn into the loft at 06h01. Rutger already had been calculating that he had to clock before 06h13 if he wanted to beat Jay Lissenberg from Utrecht. Via the ZLU-app he announced his pigeon and a minute later he was at the top of the list. Really quickly messages came out of all directions to wish him congrats. The national victory was a fact. He nearly had the time to read and answer all of them. Together with the winner Rutger basketed two other couples of nestpigeons. One couple bred on eggs of around 13 days and the second couple went on a youngster of about 3 days. He clocked three pigeons of them on Saturday at 9h28, 10h18 and 10h38. Good for the positions of 634-899 and 1046. 

“Frosien” Nl19-1228531 winner 1st Nat. and 2nd Intern. Perpignan.

Rutger had taken into account that he would name the pigeon of the first coming prestigious victory to his deceased mother Frosien. She went to Limoges on eggs and won the 39th spot against 880 pigeons. Her next assignment was Agen ZLU on a youngster but missed. The cock she was paired up to come home from Marseille with a big hole in his wing and got some rest. “Frosien” was coupled to another cock and was basketed for Perpignan on eggs of about 8 days. Rutger placed a picked egg in her nest and she was really fond of her nest. 

Her father is “De Adelaar” who was only raced as yearling and won the 403rd National Agen (5,935b). Due to moving he came onto the breeding loft. He is out of a cock from Jan Polder, Middelharnis (strain “Victoria”and “Delta Queen”) x “Miss Confidence” a daughter out of his base breeder “De Heijde Doffer” from Cor de Heijde, Made.

Her mother is “Jewel” a full sister to ao “Miss Possible” 1st Nat. and 1st Intern. Agen ’13 and a daughter out of his base breeding couple “De Heijde Doffer” x “Vicky” a hen from Jan Polder via Mijnis Gijse, Echteld. See pedigree 


Since 2007 the choice for the long distance game

Rutger, 43 years old and born in Amersfoort had at the age of 7 fancy pigeons flying around at his house and on a certain day he found a strange pigeons amongst them with a ring around her paw. After asking around and searching it seemed to be a pigeon from the Romijn family out of Twello. He could keep the pigeon. He liked the pigeon that much that soon more race pigeons came onto his loft from ao. Rob van Asten from Leusden. Rutger was set of in pigeon sport. Several times he moved and in 1993 he became youth member of the club in Dalfsen. At the age of 17 he went to the army and became a marine. The pigeons were taken care of by his brother Menko. After a few more movements he ended up in 2018 in Zuilaren and moved into an open house in the centre. Behind his house he placed a loft of 4,5 meters with 2 departments for the racers. Another loft for his 9 breeding couples and the gardenhouse has been changed into a residence for the 50 youngsters. These are being trained in their birth year and have to race until the last race of 480km. When they can get home within a reasonable time and fit they get after moulting a place on the racing loft. 

In the beginning Rutger mainly raced the program and could handle it really well. Once in a while he also did a long distance race and he liked it that much that he decided in Winter of 2007/2008 to only race the long distance races. He went back again to Rob van Asten and got offspring out of his Bruggemann pigeons. During the years he also got pigeons from Jan Polder, Middelharnis via Mijnis Gijssen, Echteld and also direct from Jan Polder. Via Anton Ruitenberg from Zwolle a cock from Cor de Heijde, Made and this one became his base breeder. Later he also got pigeons directly from Cor de Heijde. With the Bruggemann, Polder and the de Heijde pigeons he could form his base. Yearly he looks into the results and auctions to see if he can get something that could strengthen his own base. It had to be pigeons that can take on these kind of distances. He races the ZLU races on distances that are average 250km further than the shortest distances.. 



At the beginning of his long distance career Rutger only raced the marathon race of department 10. Soon he knew to set good results here as well. It strook that the spicy races with morning releases his pigeons got home really well and fit. That’s why he decided in 2013 to basket 12 old pigeons on Agen ZLU. His friends said he was crazy to race his pigeons at this distance (1099km). He clocked 2 pigeons at night (at 3h51 and 5h46) which were good for the 1st and 3rd prize national (6,166b) and 1st and 3rd International against 23,000 pigeons. You can’t dream of a nicer debut. It were the hen ‘Miss Possible’ (de Heijde x Polder) and cock “No Mercy” (v.d. Wegen x Bruggemann) who gave him these results.  

Nest game 
On the racing loft are 20 couples racing pigeons, with this year 24 yearlings. They were coupled together with the breeders in February and could raise a couple of youngsters. Afterwards they were separated and trained until 375km like this. Then the pigeons who had to do a ZLU race were begin coupled so they would be on eggs or a youngster when they had to go to the race. Rugter doesn’t have a special preference. It depends on the pigeon on which position they race the best. The old pigeons race along on a nest position on a long distance race of the department with following one or two ZLU races. The old had to do Limoges (891 km) against 881 pigeons and won 4-5-16-39-47 and so on with 8 prizes of the 15 basketed pigeons.  
The yearlings go after their training period along on two marathon races of department 10. On Perigueux (982 km) he basketed 15 yearlings and won 6 prizes against 770 pigeons starting with the 8th spot. Than towards Libourne (1057 km) against 1630 pigeons it became 47-48-56 and so on and 9 out of the 16 prize. . 

The pigeons only train in the afternoon for one hour. And they train really good, says Rutger. When they get in they find food existing out of 2/3 Jellema Sport and 1/3 Jellema Energy (Beyers) and can eat as much as they want. The pigeons that go to a race get the last 3 to 4 Jellema Energy extra in their box. Also some peanuts. In between the long distance races, Rutger tosses them almost weekly on a distance so they have to fly during one hour. The pigeons, inclusive the’ 5 Perpignan pigeons where tossed at 65km on the Thursday before basketing. 
In a medical way it is very simple at Rutger. If he should notice something at his pigeons he will interfere with products from ao. de Weerd. Agen ZLU was for the north a very hard race and Rutger noticed that they weren’t 100% when they got home. A few days of Ornisal brought relieve. But aside this he seldomly gives anything. The youngsters don’t get anything at all and every bred round is being placed with the former one. They have to build resistance. Minerals and grit is always available. 

A festive day
After 8 years Rutger can enjoy it again. Winning a national victory on one of the most far distances it adds an extra shine to it. Rutger is a fanatic fancier and does everything to get his pigeons optimal at the start. A fancier with true winners mentality. This is how he also has to drive 148km forward and back to basket his pigeons in NIC Nieuwleusen. And when he is on his talking chair it is hard to get him of it. After a few days he will start to realize what he did once more.