From The Chair on AP overwater and his Turbo Diesel distance Pigeons
By Chris Williams
What has led me to write this article sounds like a plot for a movie straight from the mind of Walt Disney, however fact is often stranger than fiction. A short time ago after a bad weekends racing for the whole of the UK and like many fanciers, I was expecting pigeons to be reported, however what I was not expecting was a phone call from the Netherlands least of all to report a bird of ours that was missing from the Central Southern Classic Berwick race but that is exactly what happened and as if that wasn’t enough it just so happens that the fancier is one of the very best long distance flyers in Europe today. We had crossed paths with the fancier some 20 years ago, proof that in the case of pigeon racing it really is “a small world after all”. Sit back in the comfort of your armchair and travel with me to the town of Strijen in South Holland and to the home and loft of one of the greatest pigeon fanciers that Europe and indeed the world has ever known. Arie Pieter Overwater, better known in the pigeon world as “AP Overwater”.
For many fanciers their fascination with our feathered friend stems from a love of long distance or marathon racing. For such individuals race points like Pau and Barcelona are the absolute pinnacle of pigeon racing perfection having an almost mystical magnetic pull about them, so strong that countless generations of men and women have dedicated their lives to attaining success. But it is often a case of many are called but few are chosen and when discussing this noble art form of our sport which requires strong discipline on the part of the fancier combined with pigeons of exceptional quality. Imagery of the “Gods” of pigeon racing fill the minds eye. Names such as Aarden and Vanbruaene and countless others all standing atop of the podium! Yes we all know these legends whose names are often recited within pigeon circles in the reverential tones, not too dissimilar to a benediction given by a priest for such is the power that these names have on the psyche of devotees of the marathon in the sky!
As important as it is to remember the history and legacy of these true icons for the ages, we must keep in mind that the sport of pigeon racing has entered the 21st century and many names have come and gone seemingly within the blink of an eye however there is one individual that instantly springs to mind who has been at the top for longer than many “superstars” of the sales rooms we see today and as a result, his is a name that commands respect from fanciers from every corner of the earth in which serious pigeon sport is practiced, for not only is AP Overwater, an exceptionally gifted fanciers whom has been at the top for decades, he is first and foremost a gentleman in every sense of the word, one whose passion for the racehorse of the sky is as strong today as it was when a he was nine years old!.
From the very beginning AP had as he says: A nice start with pigeons because both his parents fully encouraged their son with his new hobby which began after a stray pigeon took up residence in the family garden, soon a local fancier gifted the future champion two pigeons and from that very day AP and pigeon sport have become inseparable, I always enjoy talking pigeons but even more so with enthusiastic, intelligent fanciers and with performances in recent years such as 1st National Agen 2014, 1stNational Dax 2018 and the coveted International Ace Pigeon award for Barcelona 2015-2018 to his credit then it is crystal clear to any discerning reader that AP is a man with his finger on the pulse of pigeon sport. This is nothing new because here is a man who knows what it takes to win races, a solid foundation and in pigeon terms this is found in the breeding loft, but first you must find pigeons that are built for the job you have in mind, of course you need lady luck on your side too and in 1988 she smiled sweetly upon AP as once more a lost pigeon found itself a house guest of the Overwater family and resulted in AP coming into contact with a highly successful and respected fancier. Readers of a previous article and fanciers with a little more “time on the wing” may recall the name Peter van den Eijnden of Deurne and the part he played in formation of the colony of a certain Calais fancier Robert Ben. Would you like to take a guess at to whom the lost bird belonged? Why its Peter van den Eijnden of course! AP phoned Peter and they talked for several hours about the intricate aspects of the sport and what it takes to get pigeons really marathon racing. This proved to be a key stepping stone on AP’s climb to the top as sometime later a loft visit to Deurne was arranged resulting in a cock being purchased with the ring number NL2966010/88 to become the foundation cock of the Overwater colony. Fanciers on the continent have long advocated cross breeding of “Good pigeons to Good pigeons”, which sounds excellent in theory but as we know is a lot harder to attain in practice, this is where Champions of this calibre come into their own because they study not only their own birds but also those of other fanciers who are gaining success in the races they are aiming for because there is always something to learn in this game as it is tough at the top and you really need to be on your toes. Soon the name and excellent results of Batenburg & Son caught the attention and so AP went and purchased from them, added to this potent mix were the bloodlines of Eijerkamp-Muller. ‘The Oude Muller Kweker’ came via Hennie Schaap. Birds were also obtained from friends Saarloos, Jan Ouwerkerk, Klip-Verhagen, Piet de Vogel, these lines all being used for cross breeding.
In 1990 AP and his Wife Ria really began to reap the fruits of their intensive pigeon racing labour with their hen NL88/1814196 or as she is better known “De Perpignan” not only was this hen clearly one to watch in the race basket with performances such as 688th Nat. Dax 9973 pigeons , 21st Perpignan 1990 and 7th international Pau and 180th nat. Perpignan 3448 pigeons under her belt but due to the level of interest in buying this hen, it was clear that everyone was now starting to take note of a new rising star of the Dutch distance racing scene. Where others perhaps would have cashed in on their “new found fame” the decision was made to award “De Perpignan” with her rightful place in the breeding loft, which given her lineage proved to be the wiser choice. For “De Perpignan” was a direct acquisition from the loft Batenburg & Son, being a direct daughter of their basic pair ‘Bonte Kweker’ x ‘Lourdes Duivin’, with this in mind I am sure it will come as no surprise to learn that this hen became the mother of basic hen 2 ‘074’. This hen ‘074’ was 5 times in the top 100 on the national stage being : 9-65-88-89-95! It is inconceivable to mention AP and his exceptional birds without mentioning the iconic De Dure!
All too often in the press and on auction websites these days one doesn’t have to search long to find the phrase “super breeder”, let’s be honest with ourselves it is somewhat “over used” by those in our sport today with a mind for commerce but when trying to comprehend the colossal impact that the magnificent “De Dure” has had upon not only AP’s stella career but also on many other marathon minded fanciers, then I am afraid no other adjective will do! Born in 1992 this cock is the sire, grandsire of truly prolific performance pigeons which have founded a true dynasty of long distance “die hards” which dominate the races arguably in a way our sport has not seen since the great days of the “Steenbergen sensation” the legendry Jan Aarden. Here is a quick snapshot of just a few of the absolute toppers which this potent specimen directly responsible for producing 1st National Bergerac, 1st National Cahors, 1st National Agen, 1st National Perigueux, 1st National Mt. de Marsan, 1st National/International Bordeaux etc. “De Dure” is an excellent breeder, the kind of pigeon that many fanciers spend their nights dreaming of, far from being a “one trick pony “ he has passed these attributes future generations of Overwater champions most notably his son “The New Dure” the saying “like father like son” certainly applies here because “The New
Dure” is himself a top producer being the Father & Grandfather of the following prize winners: 4th National Pau vs. 3,124 birds 8th International Barcelona vs. 21,169 birds 8th National Barcelona vs. 5,422 birds 16th National Agen vs. 6,211 birds 35th National Bordeaux vs. 4,504 birds 39th National Perpignan vs. 6,414 birds 45th National Cahors vs. 5,359 birds. Two of his best performers are “Miss Turbo Dax” and “De Barcelona Turbo” “Miss Turbo Dax” won 1st National Dax S2 vs. 2,131 birds and 10th National Dax vs. 10,072 birds in 2018. “De Barcelona Turbo” won the title 1st International Ace Pigeon Barcelona ’15-’18 PIPA Rankings, 2nd National Ace Pigeon Barcelona ZLU ’15-’17 and 3rd International Ace Pigeon Barcelona ’15-’17 PIPA Rankings.
Now that we have established the genesis of the lofts lets turn our attention to the racing system which works as follows: At the beginning of the season AP races the cocks and hens separately until 4 weeks before a big race, then they are raced on eggs or youngsters. After 3 big races he separates them again for the last 3 or 4 big races, as you can see from this list of his top 10 National prizes from 2013-2019: it is a very productive form of motivation: 1e Nat Agen S2 N.P.O. vs. 3.599 pigeons 1e Nat Dax S2 N.P.O. vs. 2.131 pigeons 3e Nat Narbonne Z.L.U. vs. 4.566 pigeons 6e Nat BordeauxS2 NPO vs. 4.277 pigeons 8e Nat Barcelona Z.L.U. vs. 5.422 pigeons 8e Int Barcelona Z.L.U. vs. 21.169 pigeons 8e Nat Cahors S2 N.P.O vs. 5.279 pigeons 10e Nat Dax overall vs. 10.072 pigeons.
You hear it sadly said by so many today “pigeons take over your life”, well according to this champion a fancier must use a system that he or she feels positive about and it must priorities your family, your work or job, and your pigeons, in that order. He suggests making a system where all 3 work well and in harmony, then do not change your system. You must have a good feeling for animals and be extremely observant especially when you are in your loft. Wise words from this modern master of marathon pigeon racing, ladies and gentlemen, AP Overwater !
Just a few of the trophys won over the years
The new Dure, a breeder that is a more than a worthy successor to his father De Dure
De Dure, the backbone of the Overwater loft !
AP inside the loft proudly displaying “De Barcelona Turbo” “Miss Turbo Dax