[CQ-Contest] Thoughts on Winning

Peter Chamalian W1RM at Comcast.net
Mon Jun 7 12:51:07 EDT 2021

First, you have to define what winning means to you.  


Are you looking at single op?  Multi-2, M/M?  What category?  Assisted?


What mode?


What is the scope?  Top in the world?  Top in your continent, country, ARRL
Section, state?


Which contest are you trying to "win"?


Once you have this down, find out who your competition is.  


Now, figure out what they have for gear, antennas, location, etc.  If you
can't get that info from the web then go visit them!  Yeah, visit and assess
what they are using.  Assess how they operate (Single Op, Single Op 2 Radio,
etc.), see what equipment they use.  How about antennas and tower(s)?


Gather all this information together and see what you can do to match or
beat their physical situation.


Next, what about skills?  What about age?  Skills can be improved but age
not so much.


Now let me share my tale.  Back in the late 60's I had the bug bad.  I had
operated my own station with just low power and wires in a rental room on
the famed Selden Hill in West Hartford, CT.  This house was the favored home
for many famous guys at ARRL Hq like W1HDQ, W1FB, and many more.


Now I was living in a different apartment with two roommates while I went
back to college.  I moved my station back to my family home in New York.
Here, W1BGD/2 had eyes set on some serious contesting.  I put up a 50-foot
tower with a TH6 and dipoles for 80 and 40.  So now I plunge head-long into
CQWW, ARRL DX, SS, etc.  I run smack into guys like W2PV, W1UU, and others
in the Boston area.  Hmm, how do I beat these guys?


By this time W2PV was multi-op and out of my frame.  The boys in Boston
clearly had an advantage over me by virtue of distance and equipment.  So, I
went on a little trip to visit these guys and see what I was up against.
What I found was pretty simple and common.  Everyone had at least 2 towers,
multi-element monoband beams and sometimes fixed beams south.


Now to the planning phase.  I designed my own monobanders - 4 elements on
20, 4 elements on 15 and 5 on 10.  I also acquired a 2 el for 40.  I bought
aluminum to build the beams and 70 feet of tower.  The plan was to put the
20 and 40 on the new tower and the 15 and 10 on the 50 footer.


OK, long story short.  In 1971 when ARRL DX CW was 2 weekends long, I went
full bore.  After the first weekend I was in the running but the Boston boys
had an advantage.  The second weekend rolls around and Friday late afternoon
as I and my then my new wife drove to NY, the rains started.  We had a
N'oreaster on our hands.  We get to my parents' home I race upstairs to
check antennas et al and found 20 totally dead!  OMG.  I had made a not so
good connection to the gamma match so up the tower I go, in the rain and
dark, last the connection that had indeed broken then down the tower.  I
quickly change my clothes (I was soaking wet) and ran to the shack (which
was on the 3rd floor).  Off we go.  Bobbie brought me some food for dinner,
and I went to work.


When the dust settled, contests over, logs checked and submitted, I found
out how my competition did.  While I had rain in NY, they had ICE and that
made a shambles of their antennas.  I won!


In 1974 with the same station, I won CQWW CW for the US.  Since then I have
had the pleasure and honor of a number of "victories".  NE Division in CW
SS, IARU Low Power for North America, single band 15 in CQWW CW, AA CW for
NA, and more.


So, what is winning?  It's whatever you want it to be and how much of an
investment do you want to make against what you find are the odds.


Pete Chamalian, W1RM

W1rm at comcast.net


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