CQWW WPX Contest, CW
Class: SOAB HP
Operating Time (hrs): 36
Total: 2769 Prefixes = 863 Total Score = 7,485,662
Club: Frankford Radio Club
Another contest, another BIG aurora! I think that if we ever have
QUIET geomagnetic conditions and multiple bands are open, it will be
confusing to me where to go!
Due to daily T-storms and constant rain of the past three weeks, I did not
hook up the station until 2200z on Friday of the contest. I was LUCKY!
Everything worked and Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous and the bands
fairly free of QRN (after Friday night). It is hard for me to imagine
how much of a challenge it must have been to operate in the Midwest and
Southeast with the constant dangerous T-storms and Tornados! Unfortunately, the
WX is a big factor in this contest every year.
It had been three years since I was able to do a serious effrot in this contest
and when I started, I was VERY rusty (no cw since ARRLDXCW). I got way behind
very quickly as I picked the wrong band to start on and was doing minimal
I thought that I would be able to get a decent run going and then work my way
back but as many other have said, cndx were really poor!
Every hour was a struggle and grind it out affair with the polar path mostly
non-existent until Sunday night (zulu time) at EU sunrise. While it was
tempting to try to run there at that time, especially since I desparately needed
all the Asian and Asiatic Russian prefixes, I knew that the EU stations would be
on 10 and 15 at that time working each other on Short-skip. There are only so
many Asiatic Russian stations, and with the minimal JA activity, it would be
better to stay on 40 with the lower rates but 6 point q's and the possibility of
working the Eastern US prefixes. That worked, sort-of.
The EU activity is phenomenal in this contest and the EU stations go where they
can work EACH OTHER the best and gather up all those rare EU/Middle
Eastern?asian prefixes. US stations are not much of factor to MANY of these EU
stations except the big guns. For example, in this contest I noticed countless
times, that EU stations would be working each other at a furious pace on 15, 20,
40 & 80 and IGNORING stateside callers.
This is especially revealing since EU - W q's are worth 6 pts on 40 & 80 and EU
- EU q's are worth only (I think) 2 points. So,it was not enough to be on a
band where you could hear EU, you had to be on a band where EU wanted to work
US! That was a weird strategy twist!
I worked the LOWEST number of JA's and JA prefixes ever in this contest,
including all past bottom of the cycle and auroral years. Only 32 JA stations
and a pitiful 20 JA prefixes. Yet, my prefix count was my highest ever and the
US prefixes seemed endless!
I really believe that with the often completely unpredictable "Summer"
propagation plus the totally unpredictable WX factor and QRN factor, and
combined with the requirement for 12 hours of off-time, and the large point
differential between the low and high bands, the WPXCW is possibly the most
challenging of all contests to operate and maximize score.
As an example. I took an off-time on Sunday and planned to come back on about
18:45z. I got on and 20 was great and I felt real smart. That is until there
was a LARGE FLARE only 7 minutes later and 20 disappeared! Now what? Do I suck
wind and hope that the band reopens, wasting valuable time while hoping and
waiting? Or do I immediately take off-time again and then hope that cndx aren't
worse later? and that the qrn on 40 isn't too high to work 6-pointers in the
last hour! These are the kind of decisions that are touch to make and usually
you don't get them all right, since the WX and qrn and flares are beyond your
ability to predict or control. That makes it much more challenging.
But it also equalizes things a bit more.
I agree with N6RT that it is possible for a good op at a West Coast station to
win this contest of the conditions are right. Likewise for the Midwest,
Southeast or Texas, etc.
As with the WPX SSB contest, it is GREAT to notice the increasing activity of
the US big and little guns and the constant growth in US prefixes. And of
course, with increasing activity come higher scores and more fun.
For me, I have to milk the low bands for all the 6-pointers since I can not
out-q stations in many other areas of the country. Yet, I can not ignore the
possibility of EU runs on 15 and 20 or else I miss the q's. This relationship
changes every year due to QRN, WX and wildly variable propagation. I have never
operated this contest the same way 2 years in a row and I doubt that I ever
will. That's what makes it so interesting and challenging! With the decline in
the sunspot cycle and the increased points on the low-bands, let's hope for
great conditions next year so that everyone has a shot at setting new records!
I never heard ZD8Z and only worked D4B and 5I3A on one band. It is amazing how
many stations you DON'T hear despite a major contest effort!
Congrats to N9RV on a GREAT JOB from the Midwest, especially under what must
have been extreme weather conditions and congrats to all the other high scorers
including another great job from D4B!
Finally, let's take a moment to remember a great contester and past US winner of
this WPXCW contest, Bill Fisher, W4AN and KM9P. It felt strange and sad not to
hear his callsign this year. Bill we will all miss you and your contributions
to this contest and the hobby. RIP my friend.
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