Aaah, Worked All Europe CW. In itself a contest like any other. However: everyone is enjoying summer outside and fleeing from hot shacks. There is no massive participation so you don’t make as much QSO as in WPX or WW. This is no ‘rate contest’. And it’s working (or trying to) DX only from EU which makes it even harder.
Then why does this contest have so much die hard fans that show up every year? Because contesting is fun. Because you do work nice DX. Because of the QTC thing for sure! Yes, WAE CW is always a treat. I always enter this one with a ‘we’ll see what gives’ attitude – ànd with an insatiable hunger for QTC. A feast for the passionate CW operator!
So I set up my station on Friday. Cranking up towers, deploying low band wire antennas, the routine. After that I was working the bands and I needed to shut down because of an emerging T-storm. There is no language foul enough to describe my feelings: WPX CW, IARU and now this WAE weekend: thunderstorms right above the QTH forcing me QRT.
You can imagine my demotivation at the start of the contest with the WX prediction. So I didn’t start – right away. I took some sleep that counts as a 4 hour break and got QRV around 04.00 UTC on Saturday. I saw a beautiful sunrise outside. The best ever seen. A nice mixture of sun and fog. But the propagational sunrise was not like the visual sunrise. The horror! Almost nothing on 80m. Nothing workable. There was a huge amount of noise and QRN. It hurt my ears. The problem is WAE multiplies an 80m multiplier by 4 so this… Who cares anyway when you’re in it for the fun and the QTC? 40m wasn’t much better either. Now this becomes a problem. At 05.40 I went to 20m which is early but I worked everything on 80 and 40. My ears were happy to leave the low bands… Highlight was PY1NB on 80m – good copy between the summer static!
From then on it was business as usual. Until 13.00 UTC: I couldn’t copy a single thing anymore. A rain shower pinned the S-meter with terrible static and QRN. And some thunder to boot. Off the air again. Back QRV at 14.20 and later on there was a nice opening to the West Coast on 15m. Then back to 20 which seemed OK too.
I took another break anticipating more noise and less DX on 40/80. I needed to take 6 hours off due to a tactical mistake. I didn’t plan to be active the full 36 hours. How could I know it would be so much fun this year? So I wasted some off time on Saturday morning and afternoon and came across the following line in the rules: “If operation is interrupted for more than 12 hours the three longest off time periods must be a minimum of 12 hours“. Sh!t. Next to some shorter breaks, I already had a break of 2 and 4 hours. Hence the 6 hour break. If I had known I would have so much fun as I did, I would have cared about and planned the breaks. Like I do in WPX CW. But from now on it was going all the way.
I tried 80m again at my sunrise. Pleasant surprise: being called by 2 ZL’s. This is not as easy in summer than it is in winter. Especially when you have to copy a real number in stead of knowing the zone like in CQ WW. A little more on 40 too for the multipliers but nothing spectacular. I kept focusing (= begging) on QTC and I think the better band was 15m. It gave me as much DX as 20m but with less noise. It was raining all Sunday long whci gave me a lot of static on 20m. It was better on 15. No real DX on 10m.
This is my best score ever in WAE CW. I copied over 1600 QTC. I think I was doing great. Until I saw the scores on 3830. That puts things in perspective again. I think my antennas just don’t cut it. Outgunned by monobanders and higher towers and bigger antennas on 40/80 . I wondered how I could beat myself next year. I’ll try to do the full 36 hours and maybe try to improve the RX situation on the low bands. And if the sun helps… WAE was big fun this year. I had a blast!