Well - I think everyone who has beaten me in all of the contests I have
operated has had an advantage. In that CD party when WA2UOO/KP4 showed up
was on 10 meters working EVERYONE, when everyone else only had one QSO on
the band - he won because he had an advantage.
When K5RC beat me by one half of a QSO in the NAQP CW 4 or 5 years ago - it
clearly was because he had an advantage (although I am hard pressed to tell
you exactly what it was - since after all, it was only worth one QSO).
When K7NHV beat me in the Bicentennial contest, he had an advantage because
he could run Europeans all night long at over 100/hour.
When N6RO beat me in that CD Party when I was operating at W6DGH, he might
of had an advantage because of the experienced gained winning contests
longer than I was alive. Oh yeah, did I mention that I was using a bug and
had to manually tune my transmitter frequency using a KWS-1?
Furthermore - I submit that KE3Q has an advantage over me in the SS CW -
even when I am at W5WMU.
It also seems that those four people who beat me in the 1993 CQ WW CW when I
was at TI1C had an advantage over me (mostly because I was in a "two
point country" - but I think I knew that before I went down). This is one
of the pinnacles of my contesting career - and I know how to divide by 2.4
and multiply by 2.9 in my head now.
Finally, I think I have advantages over most everyone in the upcoming CW
Sprint. Here is a list of them:
1. I am using a station I am "at one with". This involves a lot of things -
not the least of which is writing "my own" logging software. For some
reason, my logging software works EXACTLY the way my brain works. This is a
COMPETITIVE advantage for me in many contest situations. If you wish to
overcome this advantage, you will either need to make your brain work like
one of the existing programs, or spend 10 years perfecting your own
2. I have a big station that can operate effectively on any two bands with a
competitive signal on all bands. This involves years of experimentation
with different antennas and the investment of 3 towers on 14 acres. You
could go to a big station (like W7RM) and probably be just a loud (or maybe
a little louder), but you would also need to understand how they work and
what is possible. A full sized 3-element 40 at 105 feet was the latest
addition to this arsenal. A 4-square on 80 might be next. You say you
don't have room for this? Advantage to me - but I would love to have your
commute time to work.
3. I have worked about 43 Sprints and know the contest inside out. This is
an advantage - and it is easy to figure out how you can match it (I just
wish N6MJ wasn't figuring it out quite so fast however).
4. Being in Oregon turns out to be an advantage in this contest. So does
being in Texas, but in February, Oregon can be an advantage more of the
time. It depends on conditions - the wild card that makes each contest
unique. The September CW Sprint played very differently because of them
(see the writeup at http://www.ncjweb.com/).
5. Luckily for me, at the "advanced" age of 48, I still have reasonable
control over my motor functions and can even still send some CW with a
paddle when required.
6. I have considered, and even recently tried, using a "bigger" station than
mine in the sprint. I think conditions threw a curve ball at me, but it was
a lot of work to go and set up a station that I could be "at one" with.
Using my home station is an advantage for me in this contest. It would be
fun to operate the Sprint from places like KL7 and VE6, but I don't think I
would be as competitive as I can be at home. Louisiana? It is a neat place
to get away for a weekend and just focus on radio. It is one of the more
relaxing weekends of my busy year. True, it does work out to be an
advantage as well (in the SS) - but back in '84, I think I could have won
that contest from Oregon if I would have taught myself how to do two radios.
I missed that opportunity because I didn't train myself to make that an
In summary, some advantages are very easy to understand and some you can
even do something about. Focus on those you can do something about. Don't
worry about the ones you can't. Play hard, do the best you can and use
yourself as a measuring stick of your success. Thousands of you do this
already and enjoy the experience even though you know you don't have a
chance of "winning". You are the uncelebrated heros that make contesting
work. Without you, there wouldn't be anyone for us egomaniacs to work.
Winning = Preparation + Opportunity
Opportunity is a function of conditions - however, if you are really
prepared, sometimes you can overcome them. In the meantime, I'll be busy
preparing so that I have as many advantages as possible over W7TTT so that
he will NEVER beat me again in a contest. I would say that silly callsign
Tom got will more than make up for whatever advantage he had on me in that
73 Tree N6TR / K7RAT