My view on your well-articulated posting is that during contests it is quite
appropriate for ops to be using moderately high speed CW. The goal is to
work as many stations as possible in the time windows that exist for a given
path. As long as conditions support higher speeds and as long as QSOs are
being worked, the higher the speed the better. In fact in the recent CQ WW
DX contest, I used speed as one way to reduce the pileup on me to a
manageable amount, with speeds exceeding 45 wpm at times - while still
working stations with other stations waiting in line!
As QSO rates begin to drop, sure then it is appropriate to try a few CQs at
lower speeds. In the ARRL Sweepstakes, for example, you hear a lot of the
"big guns" trying out 15-20 wpm looking for the slower speed ops during the
Sunday doldrums. And of course when conditions require it in any contest.
You are part right and part wrong when you say if an op sends 20wpm it would
take less attempts to figure out what was sent, etc. Right. But from the
perspective of the stations trying to optimize their rates, as long as there
are stations calling that can handle the 35wpm, that's the speed that will
be used. It makes no sense whatsoever, except for the slower speed
operators, to slow down. Why operate at the speed of the slowest op? That
makes no sense - if the objective is score.
A great way for the slower speeds ops to improve their copying abilities is
to do exactly what you say: listen a number of times to get the call and
exchange information, then call and make the contact. Yes, such a op will
take a while to make Qs, but the more capable ops will, during that period
of time, likely make several contacts. Over time, the slower speed ops will
become higher speed ops. Such is life: with practice comes improved
competence; with improved competence comes improved competitiveness.
Sending speeds should vary based on conditions and based on what it takes to
attract callers. As long as conditions permit and there are enough stations
calling at the higher speeds, you should not expect operators to slow down