[CQ-Contest] Re: The UNLIMITED category.

Kenneth E. Harker kharker at cs.utexas.edu
Fri Feb 18 09:42:11 EST 2000

On Thu, Feb 17, 2000 at 08:27:10PM -0500, Guy Olinger, K2AV wrote:
> From: Paul O'Kane <paul at ei5di.com>
> >
> > It's a bit like putting engines in sailboats to make them go faster.
> > You'll end up with powerboat racing instead of yacht racing.
> Speaking of yachting, a good historical object lesson can be found in
> the America's Cup races. Remember the year that the Aussies came up with
> the winged keel, and took the Cup away from that table in Newport, RI,
> for the first time in over a century? And then the US copied, added some
> weird lower friction plastic skin on the racing surfaces and won it
> back. Then there were the San Diego races where the US entry was a
> catamaran. And there were some other things about advances in sails I
> don't remember well enough to recount.

I find the analogy between radio contesting and the yacht racing very
compelling.  I'd actually been thinking the same sort of thing for some
time, as a means to explain radio contesting to those for whom it is a
complete unknown.

I sometimes hear people assert that use of the Morse code is dying out 
because it has no place in the modern context.  Clearly, voice, satellites,
data, etc. are taking the place of Morse in a lot of situations.  Maybe it 
will be only Amateurs in the end who continue to use and enjoy the code.
But this is kind of like sailing, in a way.  For the most part, there are no
modern navies equipped with sailing warships.  In first world countries, I
dare say no one really transports commercial traffic on sailing craft any
more.  You could argue that, aside from amateurs who enjoy sailing for 
pleasure, there's no real compelling reason for sailboats and sailing ships 
to continue to exist.  Why do people continue to own and use sailboats and 
sailing yachts?  Some like to just get out and enjoy nature.  Some like to
sail to foreign countries and experience new cultures.  Some enjoy racing
because it's a competitive sport.  These are very similar reasons for why 
people would enjoy Amateur Radio and radiosport contesting.  Just because
we can't see the ionosphere, and it never blows through our hair, doesn't
mean we don't get a thrill out of experiencing it and harnessing it to 
accomplish our competitive objectives.  

In terms of this particular discussion, though, perhaps the "unlimited"
class would be akin, not so much to improving the yacht, but to racing 
fleets of sailing yachts against other fleets.  I'm not sure this can't 
be done better through the "team" concept already in place - maybe allowing 
teams of competitors, spread across the country or globe to use, say, 
Internet chat channels to coordinate or pass mults or whatever would be a 
better approach if such a concept were to really advance.

Kenneth E. Harker      "Vox Clamantis in Deserto"      kharker at cs.utexas.edu
University of Texas at Austin                  Amateur Radio Callsign: KM5FA
Department of the Computer Sciences         President, UT Amateur Radio Club
Taylor Hall TAY 2.124               Maintainer of the Linux Laptop Home Page
Austin, TX 78712-1188 USA            http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/kharker/

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