WRTC: yay or nay?

WRTC is something that has been on my mind since the Finland 2002 edition. It has a mythical reputation in the contesting scene. I always dreamed of going there. But it’s only for the best of the best they say. As a rookie HF operator in 2001 up to now I have played in both CW and SSB contests, big and small, local and DX. From State QSO Party over EU Sprint to CQ WW. From easy standard exchanges like CW WW to high speed CW serial and longitude/latitude coordinates combined (RAEM). And of course as a CW freak: the yearly harvest of CW QTC in WAE. I know that ND2T and K9YC are CA/z3 despite the 2 and the 9. I know that there is no such thing as an 5H3EO but it’s S53EO.  It took me a decade and over 150 000 contacts in the log but now I dare to call me a good contest operator. But how good is good? I don’t see myself as WRTC-material. Although I’ve become a pretty good CW contest operator over this past decade, I have no experience in sustained high-rate or pile up prone situations. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what I would do there. Finish last? Bail out half way?

There are a few practical objections too. First off: taking all the equipment with me would cost an arm and a leg. And I’m a real cheapskate when it comes to travelling. Even worse: home sweet home, I don’t like travelling. For years I have convinced the XYL to invest in projects to improve the house and quality of life. I know this has been a sacrifice for her because she loves to go on holidays. It would not be fair to her if I suddenly go to the USA for over a week, only to play radio, spending a lot of money on a plane ticket and excess luggage. Leaving her behind to take care of house, garden, kids and pets. Actually I swore myself never to go anywhere far away without her: she cancels out my reactance, she’s the capacitance to my inductance. I would freak out on the smallest inconvenience without her calming me down. Because I don’t like going away.

But can you take your non-radio non-contesting XYL to contest Walhalla? She would be bored and I would be bothered by her being bored. Me being bothered means me less enjoying the event. And less focused on the exact reason for us being there: the WRTC contest itself! You get the picture: rock – me – hard place!

I also have a feeling that next to measuring operating skills, WRTC has become an engineering challenge in M/S setup. Sharp filters, triplexers, interlocks – I’m a simple Single Operator and doing SO2R is the most sophisticated operating I do. I don’t like to work with other people. I even need an Belgian AZERTY keyboard with a numeric decimal point or I am totally lost. Note to OT1A: remember me on the QWERTY keyboard at OP0HQ/ON4UN in 2006 – HI?

The new rules have shifted WRTC to a M/2 setup. The good thing is: both ops can play, no interlock but maybe even better filtering? Now all this can be bought off the shelf – but do I really want to spend the budget on things I won’t be using again? Or maybe once in four years? And this brings us back to objection #1: air fares to ship all these boxes. Why can’t DARC just do WRTC? A couple of hours by car and that’s it!

You could save on transportation and hassle by travelling without equipment by applying for a position as referee. But sitting on a chair and do nothing but listening to two guys playing contest? It would take less than one hour for me to hijack their keyboard and jump in. Either that or fall asleep, which is not what a referee is supposed to do.

Another practical problem. Suppose I would go to WRTC and get selected as a team leader (TL). Who to take with me? No one in Belgium seems interested. Certainly not by judging from the selection scores and the participation in the events that count for TL selection points. I could sell the team-mate chair to the highest bidder? Bidding starts at (flight ticket + excess luggage fare). Only the recently emerged ON4CCP / OT1A has expressed his interest. We have already done two CW fielddays together and 3 M/S in IARU (2003, 2004 and 2005), in the ‘WRTC-like category’. A special unofficial sub-class for WRTC teams to practice. So we shared an audacious WRTC dream. Now there is another parameter in the equation for me: there actually is a possible interested WRTC partner. And I know him. And we get along.

When I was hanging out with 9A6XX and 9A8MM a couple of months ago, they were very excited about WRTC. KL9A has told me in an email I just had to do it, only to be part of it once. But for me, up to now, the balance is leaning heavily to ‘no WRTC’. Nevertheless I wanted to keep my options open this time. So I try to get some points for TL selection. Hence me doing All Banders in phone contests. And I must say I’m very proud to be on top of the pack for my EU region. Most of all: with limited means (my small setup), my own means, not going abroad and not being part of a multi-op. I must say the fact that multi-op scores count for WRTC TL selection is a joke. Just have your call listed in the op list of a big M/x and rake up points. If I make coffee and rub feet at say DR1A or LX7I and get my call on the operator’s list, I score big points in my EU region while not even making a single contact in the contest. Just an example to state my case, I’m not saying this is the case at those M/x operations!

There is still more than one year of contest ahead of us. Let’s see if I can make it to be a TL. If not I simply won’t even have to choose!

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