The night before liberation sitting in the room where we slept in Trompsburg I wrote the following:

I have been involved and been trainer of one loft races for such a long period that I sometimes forget some of the race winner’s names etc. Having spent time in Saudi Arabia, then the MDPR race onto Skycomrades and then Allflight Carnival Lofts I must say I have seen most of the ins and outs of one loft racing. I have made big mistakes and have definitely stepped on some toes along the way. I have met great friends and have lost sadly a couple over the years. I must have handled some of the top pigeons any fancier ever wishes to handle. I have also seen some real duds that fanciers entered and hope they could become winners. Not every fancier will get it right to breed a one loft race competitor; many breed out of their click pair but they forget that we as trainers do not have the time to give each and every pigeon the individual attention that the owner would at home. In my own race loft my so called click pair’s babies are marked and if they come late they get special attention the next two or three days at the olr they all get treated; well as a trainer I treat all the same. I do not keep pigeons back because they were late etc. To me a one loft race has always meant all in the baskets all of the time and the best of the best survivors and tough pigeons will score upfront.

Maybe the times have changed and we might need to look at managing the kit better; paying special attention to the later arrivals but then is that fair on the pigeons that can do it week in and week out? Should they not rather get the glory than one that was nurtured to be in the final? The one thing that I can say is that I with all my experience have made mistakes and will still make mistakes in the future but I love your pigeons sometimes more than what you love them. They have given me so many great memories and thrills along the way! I have sat hands in my hair sometimes after a tough training flight were I lost more pigeons than I was supposed to. I have seen a virus going through a loft and taking out 20% of the entries just like that. I have also had finals won by big margins and even finals where more than 40 pigeons arrived together; the one thing I can say is that those lone flyers are remembered for a long time and that not many pigeons arriving 2nd are remembered for very long not even talking about 5th or 10th.

Here I lie on a bed in Trompsburg having had to do the driving myself for the final due to various reasons but I enjoy doing the driving as I know that no matter what happens tomorrow I cannot put the blame on anyone but myself maybe it will be a great summer final with pigeons arriving close together or perhaps the weather does change and then I will get it from all over but I will stand tall and will if it is so destined train another batch of pigeons another race series and have another winner and another ace pigeon. I know not all the current customers will return but I also know new customers will be bringing their hopefuls to take part. I have read that we as olr’s should not spare any costs in taking care of the pigeons so I ask the same of you; give your babies the absolute best treatment food vaccines etc. because you are laying the foundation that we must build with! I want to wish everyone all the best tomorrow and ask only one thing and that is to stand up for tomorrow’s champion because no matter what; the front pigeons have gone through the mill already and their little bodies have endured so much already and they deserve the glory of winning or being upfront because on the day they are the winners. I hope to see many new faces as entrants and I can guarantee you as I have for the last 22plus years I will try my absolute best to get as many pigeons to the finals as always and to get as many of them back from the final race as well. Good luck to all Herman Janse van Rensburg

That was written the night before liberation as I sit here now the race is history and the winning pigeons have almost rested out and are ready for another challenge if put to them but fortunately they will not need to race another race but will now go onto stock lofts where I am sure we will in future see their ring numbers on pedigrees of pigeons that fly in front at club, organization and olr level!

On Friday morning we were up at 04h30 and went outside to have a look at the weather, it was clear and there were little to no wind which was a good sign, according to all weather reports we would get some thundershowers on the way home and that would have an impact on the returns of the pigeons. We arrived a liberation point and gave the pigeons some water to drink, and then we waited for 06h15 so we could liberate the pigeons. There was about 40% cloud cover at liberation but the sun was bright and we could open the pigeons as scheduled. They came out of the baskets made two or three turns and then headed home. We drove out of town and got on the highway. About 20minutes or so after liberation we saw the kit to our left working well, still a compact unit and working in unison as a peloton of soldiers. The wind was a very light headwind but towards the right of us we could see thicker clouds. I tried to update the participants as regularly as I could take a break from driving every now and again along the flight path and posting photos and video clips.

For the first 100km the weather was clear as we arrived at Bloemfontein to get some refreshments I did another few photos and then we headed back again. I knew now that I was about 10minutes or more ahead of the pigeons already, at Verkeerdevlei we encountered a stronger headwind and some low scattered clouds but still nothing to worry about. At Winburg the wind changed slightly and still was not very strong, here there were some more clouds and further between Winburg and Ventersburg we hit the first scattered rains, nothing serious and this would not post a problem for the pigeons. The wind was a bit stronger and now I estimated that we were at least 30mins ahead of them. Kroonstad was the same scattered clouds with a drop of rain here and there but nothing serious to bother the pigeons however towards Heilbron we could see darker clouds gathering. At about the halfway mark between Kroonstad and Koppies we drove into a rain shower this however did not last long and by the time we turned off the highway to Koppies it was all clear again.

As we neared Sasolburg the next patch of rain hit us, this time a bit heavier and it lasted till close to the Vaal dam, this would become a problem for the pigeons as it was a soft constant rain shower that would break them up for sure. I arrived home at about 12 o’clock and thought if we lucky and the first groups made the right decisions and could get through the rain they could be home by 13h30, I knew however that the rain would split them up as well.
I joined the guests that had gathered at the lofts already made sure all was ready for the arrival of the pigeons, it was good seeing some familiar faces as well as some new faces and even some fanciers that just drove up for the day even if they did have pigeons in the race. I phoned a friend near Deneysville and he reported that it rained heavy there for about an hour or so but that it had stopped raining now, this was close to 1pm, the pigeons generally fly about 35minutes from there so I had a look at the time and guessed we could get pigeons very close to 13h30 as it was a cool day with not much wind and lets us be honest with each other it was the best possible weather for a summer final race, cool overcast and not much wind is as close to perfect as it can get in summer here in Africa.

One of the visitors called out here they come, from where I was sitting I could not see the two pigeons yet as they were half behind the roof of the lofts but straight from liberation, then they appeared in front of the lofts and turned a few times before dropping down on the landing board, the smokey blue bar would put his foot first on the Benzing olr’s timing system and record a win for his owner Danie Erasmus. Danie has had some good success in the winter races here at Carnival loft having had one of the top ace pigeons not long ago. A well-deserved win for a fancier who has been knocking and now have a big win under his name! The 2nd pigeon to walk over the timing system belong to Andre van Wyk the humble quiet fancier whom I met 20 odd years ago in Wesselbron when I went there to liberate pigeons for the MDPR. He then started working for the MDPR as loft manager for quite a number of years; this is his first time he entered and the two pigeons he sent both scored in the top 30, well done to you Andre! The 3rd pigeon arrived and clocked, JTC Hokke (Simon Bylsma) from Kuruman was the lucky breeder/owner winning the 3rd position, then the 4th pigeon actually arrived a bit off course dropped down and clocked none other than JJJ Lofts, 5th position was won by Gys & Formyn!

The top 15 on the final race were:

Rank Fancier
1 Danie Erasmus
2 Andre van Wyk
3 JTC Hokke
4 Triple J Lofts
5 Gys & Formyn
6 Stander & Bekker
7 Team In Memorium
8 Dieplaagte/Sterkfontein & Stratus Lofts
9 Witpen Hokke
10 African Roots Synd
11 Steenberg & Broebech
12 Team Hildegard Peyrick
13 Team In Memorium
14 Loutjie & Ina Korff
15 Die Ou Skuur Hok

The full results can be viewed by following this link

On the day a total of 43 pigeons made it back and I must be honest I thought more than 50 would be able to make it back to the lofts. Early the next morning a grizzle hen was to open the clock and the rest of the day we saw a steady return of pigeons. At the time of writing more than 50% of the pigeons have made it back thus far and I am not happy as I would have loved to get 70% plus back. The ace pigeon for 2021 was hotly contested the whole season with a number of pigeons being in the running to become ace pigeon! The honors would however go to one of South Africa’s top olr competitors and definitely one of the best fanciers that I know “Witpen Hokke” Andre Reynders. It was an honor to have him back in the summer race! 2nd ace pigeon goes to our German agent who made a team in memory of his late father as well as longtime friend of Carnival Lofts Willi Ferchen who both passed away. A fitting memory of two greats! In 3rd none other than the ever present Triple J Lofts who is always in the mix, 4th ace goes to the two gents from Midlands Loft also top performers here in the summer races and the 5th ace goes to last year’s winners of the summer race Dieplaagte/Sterkfontein & Stratus Lofts.
The top 10 ace pigeons were:

Rank Fancier
1 Witpen Hokke
2 Team In Memorium
3 Triple J Lofts
4 Midlands Loft
5 Dieplaagte/Sterkfontein & Stratus Lofts
6 Stander & Bekker
7 Die Ou Skuur Hok
8 Webster Lofts
9 Heerman & Gilbert
10 Andre van Wyk

To see the full list you can follow this link 

To all the winners on the day a special congratulations from the team here at Carnival Lofts I am sending out the new rules for 2022 summer series as well. I will be sending out the contact details of fanciers whom you can contact if you wish to ship pigeons for the next intake, I would like to ask everyone to try and get the pigeons here in time as I will start training at least one month earlier than the last season.