Le Tour Race Reports 2000
Stage 1: Kouchibouguac (100 km)
The birds flew the first stage from Kouchibouguac on Saturday 15/07/00 in ideal weather. They arrived when expected and trapped immediately. Sixty-nine out of seventy-one racers arrived in one drop.
The first 5 birds in order of trapping were: Cal 1755 (Luigi Duri), CU 30836 (Bill Madore), CU 14642 (Bernie Reppa), CU 26232 (Leo Boudreau), Ham 0240 (Lothar Schmitt)
The birds were let out the next morning to exercise around the loft. They quickly disappeared for an hour. When they returned in light rain they flew around the loft for another 15 mins. before half of the birds landed. The rest flew for another 45 mins in increasing rain only to land when it began to pour.
Congratulations go out to the winners and good luck to all in the next race,
Stage 2: Moncton (200 km)
The birds were released on July 19 in Moncton at 10:00 am in mostly sunny skies with a brisk 20 km side wind. The route home was similar except that the winds began to shift to blow from a north westerly direction. By 12:00 the winds had increased to 30 km with gusts up to 40 km. The first group of 57 arrived at 1:46 pm and by their condition it was obvious they had been battling strong head winds. However, by 4:00 pm the early arrivals showed few signs of their ordeal. Except for 2 racers, the rest struggled in throughout the rest of the afternoon. This morning they were let out at 7:00 am for their morning exercise and 3/4 of the birds flew for almost 1 1/2 hrs in brisk winds. This evening, all the birds flew for a solid hour. Everything is back to normal.
The first 5 birds in order of trapping were: Tony Veling (EC 1521), Lothar Schmitt (EC 1663), Bernie Reppa (CU 14640), Lothar Schmitt (Ham 0242), Bernie Reppa (14622)
Stage 3 (Moncton 200 km) is tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 24 weather permitting.
Good luck to all in the next race,
Stage 3: Moncton (200 km)
The 3rd stage (Moncton 200 km) was flown Monday, July 24, 2000. The birds were released at 9:30 am in overcast skies with a slight side breeze. Outside of Moncton, 90% of the course was mostly sunny with high quickly moving clouds. The conditions were ideal for a fast race. I was not disappointed. At 12:22 pm, two hours and fifty-two minutes later, fifty-eight racers arrived and trapped immediately. Another small group of 5 landed 4 minutes later. The rest of the team trickled in throughout the afternoon. Sixty-eight birds were shipped and all arrived by the end of the day.
As a note, this is the fastest 200 km flown by the Le Tour birds in the last four years. The previous fastest time was 3:01 flown in 1998.
The next day the birds were let out for their morning exercise and flew for a 1/2 hour before landing. Then they went down to the ground to pick around. At this time I went in the house to get water for them and when I returned they were gone. By the behavior of my prisoners, they were spooked by something - I suspected a hawk. They returned an hour later and landed without too much hesitation and trapped immediately when I called them in. Hopefully no birds are missing.
The first five birds in order of trapping were:
CU 26231 (Henry Giasson), CU 30844 (Bill Madore), CU 37102 & CU 37112 (Paul Bernatchez),EC 1524 (Tony Veling)
Stage 4, from New Glasgow (300 km), is scheduled for next Sunday, July 30. Fanciers this is when the real racing begins. From this release point, the birds will encounter their first major obstacle, the Northumberland Strait which separates the mainland of NB from PEI. Flying straight home from this point is 300 km assuming the birds fly the length of the Strait which is about 200 km long. However, hugging the coastline the actual distance flown is increased to 350 km.
Last year, the birds flew this distance twice in 6 days in times of 6:02 and 6:16. The fastest the Le Tour birds have flown this distance is 5:29 in 1998. The weather was ideal then with only a slight headwind. This is the best we can hope for - a slight headwind. There will never be a tailwind; I assure you of that.
Congratulations go out to this week's winners and best of luck to all in Stage 4,
Stage 4: New Glasgow (300 km)
The birds were released yesterday morning in New Glasgow at 6:50 in sunny and calm conditions with only a few clouds present. Throughout the course the winds were a negligible factor as all the major cities along the course reported either slight headwinds or calm conditions. At home the weather was similar, sunny and hot (24 C) with a few high clouds and a slight headwind. Even with a one day holdover because of bad weather, I expected a fast race and I wasn't disappointed. A group of over 40 birds arrived in a time of 4:52 after their release and 39 trapped immediately. A handful, for whatever reason were reluctant to trap and unfortunately were penalized for their hesitation. Shortly after, most of the rest arrived in small groups. By the end of the day, 67 of the birds shipped were accounted for and by early next morning all were home.
A total of 36 birds out of the 68 still remaining are tied for first place overall after 800 km of racing with 1200 km left in 3 more races. Next weekend's race from New Glasgow (300 km) should be the beginning of identifying the better birds. The followers will begin to fall back as this rigorous schedule progresses.
This flight of 4:52 beats the previously fastest time of 5:32 set in 1998. I attribute this fast time to: first - the quality of birds entered, second - to the darkening system and third - to experience and consequently wiser management.
The first five birds trapping in order were:
Alg 0230 (Bob Collins), CU 30836 (Bill Madore), Cal 1765 (Luigi Duri), CU 26248 (Leo Boudreau) and CU 14720 (John Buchanan).
Congratulations go out to the winners and good luck to all in the next race scheduled for this Sunday.
Stage 5: New Glasgow (300 km)
The 5th stage of the Le Tour 2000 was flown from New Glasgow (300 km) on Sunday the 6th. Sixty-seven racers were released at 7:10 in calm beautiful sunny weather. At home the weather was similar. I would describe it as"dead calm", an ideal day for a smash.
The same morning at 8:00 my second round of young birds were released in Moncton and were home in 2:40 beating the fastest time the Le Tour birds have flown this distance by 12 minutes. Maybe the conditions were right for another fast 300 km race, I thought. When no birds were home after 5 hours, my level of concern again began to rise .
To my relief at noon some clouds began moving in but the temperature kept on rising to 25 C. Finally at 1:07, five hours and forty-seven minutes (5:47) after their release, 4 racers arrived. One trapped immediately and the 3 others hesitated for a minute and therefore were penalized. At the 6:02 mark another larger group of 18 birds arrived and four minutes later 7 more birds landed and trapped immediately. Birds trickled in throughout the afternoon and by nightfall 63 out of 67 racers shipped arrived home. One more arrived the next morning.
On arrival the birds received nourishing tea and electrolytes in their drinking water and a light feed mix. Two hours later the early arrivals showed little signs of fatigue. The cocks were either fighting with one another or chasing the hens who seemed to enjoy the attention. The following morning the vast majority of droppings were back to normal.
The birds will be rested for two weeks before they are shipped to Canso (400 km). No doubt they deserve this rest. Weather permitting they will receive a 100 km training toss next weekend .
Just as a point of interest, at the 11:11 mark 4 racers arrived. Their feet and bands were covered with red sand; furthermore, one bird had red sand all over his feathers. I speculate they went down to drink somewhere over PEI and one took the opportunity to take a bath.
The first five birds in order of trapping were: EC 1378 (Harold Madore), Cal 0908 (Clinton Morden), Ham 0240 (Lothar Schmitt), CU 37106 (Paul Bernatchez), CU 14721 (John Buchanan)
In conclusion, there are 42 birds separated by only 2 hours and 52 birds separated by only 4 hours in total flying time after 1100 km of racing. Four hours difference is insignificant at this stage because anything can happen from now on. The weather can be very unpredictable across the Maritimes as fall approaches and especially so during the month of September. This is why, weather permitting, I hope to complete the Le Tour series by the Labor Day weekend .
Expect one of the next 2 races to be a tough one. In 1998, from Canso (400 km) the birds encountered 40 km headwinds resulting in no day birds. Last year, 2 hours after the birds were released in Sydney (500 km) hurricane force winds blew out of nowhere resulting in only one day bird. Hopefully, by flying an earlier schedule this year the birds will be spared these challenging conditions.
Congratulations go out to the winners and good luck to all in the next two races.
Stage 6: Canso (400 km)
The birds were released on Monday, August 21 at 8:00 am in ideal conditions at the Canso Causeway (400 km). The way home varied from sunny to overcast with varying wind conditions. Generally, the birds fought headwinds in excess of 20 km for most of the afternoon. Gusts of up to 40 km were forecast for Northern NB.
At 4:49 the first wave of 9 birds landed and trapped immediately. A minute later the second wave of 5 arrived and also trapped immediately. Within 30 minutes of the first arrivals over 30 birds were clocked. By the end of the day 38 of 65 birds shipped reached home. On the following day, 22 more arrived home and one more arrived the third day.
Presently, 61 racers remain out of the 78 entries after 1500 km of racing and 57 of these have flown the 6 stages in race time. Only 9 entries have been lost racing and the rest were victims of misfortunate mishaps about the loft and training.
The first 5 birds clocked in order were:
Paul Daehn (Alg 0017), Mike Tomshak (Cal 1758), Luigi Duri (1762), Lothar Schmitt (EC 1662), Leo Boudreau (CU 26323)
After Stage 6 there are 25 birds with less than 30 hours total flying time. The co-leaders are Lothar Schmitt and Leo Boudreau with 28:13 total flying time. Presently there are 17 birds within 1/2 hour of each other and 27 birds within 2 hours of each other in total flying time after 1500 km of racing. Now that's competition. This one is going "down to the wire" friends. Say a little prayer for decent weather in 2 weeks.
The last race is scheduled for September 2nd from Sydney NS (500 km). A mere 2 hours difference in total flying time is insignificant from this point. The Florida hurricanes are active again and have a habit of effecting the flight path without notice. We have been blessed with excellent flying weather for 6 races and one has to wonder what the odds are for this good fortune to continue. Experience suggests that one of the last 2 races is usually extremely challenging because of the wind conditions.
The last race is scheduled for Saturday, which will allow us several days to choose from should the weather not be appropriate for a release. The birds must be given a reasonable chance to make it home on the day so the results are more meaningful and not the result of circumstances beyond the racers control.
Please note this very important point. If the co-leaders arrive in the first group from the last race their order of trapping will determine the Overall Winner (single hole trapping is used). Should the unthinkable happen and there are no birds in race time in the last race, the winner will be determined by the trapping order at Stage 6. That is, since Lothar's Schmitt's EC 1662 trapped ahead of Leo Boudreau's CU 26232 from Canso then EC 1662 would be declared the winner. The other placements will be determined similarly. Where the order of trapping can't be determine from Stage 6 then the birds having equal time will be considered tied for that position.
Congratulations go out to the winners and good luck to all in the last race,
P.S. Mike Tomshak from Calgary who spent the last 2 weeks with me scrutinized the racing procedures. His comments were, "amazing results having so many birds within minutes considering the distance, the course, hours of flying and the headwinds".
Stage 7: Sydney (500 km)
The racers were released in Sydney (500 km) in ideal weather at 7:30 am. The first birds arrived 8 hours and 57 minutes later. The birds had a relatively easy flight as headwinds were negligible.
The Le Tour 2000 came to a dramatic conclusion when none of the first 8 birds trapped were the leaders after Stage 6. Finally, 53 minutes later a leader, Lothar Schmitt's EC 1662 trapped to win 1st Overall. By the end of the day 28 racers arrived and the following day 6 more reached home in race time.
The winner of Sydney race was CU 37116 flown by Josh Oullette and bred by Paul Bernatchez. Stage 7 was Paul's race as 4 birds bred by him were in the first 10. His birds scored 1st, 4th, 5th and 7th and these results helped put him in the top 10 for the 4th year in a row. Congratulations go out to Paul for an outstanding performance in the final race of the Le Tour Des Maritimes 2000 Futurity.
The top 10 positions in Stage 7 were:
1st Josh Oullette CU 37116
2nd Tony Veling EC 1524
3rd Henry Giasson CU 26231
4th Paul Bernatchez CU 37112
5th Josh Oullette CU 37117
6th Frank Schmidt EC 1492
7th Paul Bernatchez CU 37109
8th Bernie Reppa CU 14622
9th Lothar Schmitt EC 1662
10th Giselle Boudreau CU 26230