Granted: if it weren’t for the UBA I wouldn’t be in this SSB contest. But as a Belgian contest lover I feel the moral duty to fire up ye olde shack. And any contest beats no contest (except IOTA). I cranked up the tower but did not deploy the 80/160 GP. Instead I used an old dipole cut for 75m (a/k/a 80m phone). In a normal year this specific weekend also has the CQ 160 CW contest. So I usually use the low band wires to have some Top Band fun as well on top of the UBA SSB test. This odd year the 160m test was held a week earlier and I didn’t feel like disconnecting the 160m wire nor have it up in the air unused. Furthermore the cables are tangled into a real spaghetti. Don’t ask. It involves a rampaging puppy.
Despite my yucky feelings towards SSB in small contests, things were rather fun from the start. Only to become more fun as the afternoon went by. It seems there was more participation than the previous editions. Great. I decided to stick to the twelve hour category battling it out with OS8A who is a regular in this category. Usually he beats me as he has better antennas on 80 and 40 and maybe he likes phone where I can’t push myself. Long live CW.
Normal strategy: have a few fast hours at the start. Take a break. Do some 40. Take break. Do some 80. Watch TV with XYL. Go to sleep with six hours of operating time left to experience a tremendous sunrise run on 80 and 40. To find that there is no one around when the sun comes up. So you just use the remaining hours to wear out the CQ-button. No one stays up late or gets up early for the UBA SSB contest. Let alone pull an all-nighter.
So NOT this year. I did some extra hours Saturday night, making the most of 40 and 80. The tricky part was to work the K and VE mults on 40 and 80. I couldn’t stay too long or I would run low on operating time Sunday morning. On 40 I bagged them NA mults pretty easy. They get through half an hour before their sunset which is not too late Belgian time. I was just doing a last S&P before throwing the switch when I heard a competitor being called by my friend W1EBI. So he’s working 80 right now? I quickly found a spot and settled for a last short run. Hoping he would go down the band and find me there. BINGO: W1EBI brings me the USA multiplier on 80. Soon after I worked some more and a VE to boot. I could go to bed happily.
Sunday morning I did a quick scan. Eighty was dead as always. Maybe it wasn’t dead but is was at least empty as predicted. I stopped to listen to OS8A on 40. He was slightly ahead in numbers but not much. Then he got called by a J7. WTF! There is a J7 on the bands handing out a rare multiplier! I decided to call CQ there and keep my fingers crossed. Easy on phone, harder in CW. I worked some DX, some EU, some multipliers and when that J7 finally called in, I could trade 40 for 20 which was still low on QSO and mults.
Long story cut short: 4.5 hours left on Sunday is more than enough. The rates are much lower than on Saturday but you need the morning propagation to the east. That brought me a lot of VERY nice DX multipliers on the higher bands. It was a really fun edition. Plenty of contacts (+1000 in 12 hours), plenty of DX. And maybe another plaque on the wall? Let’s see how OS8A did.