Finally a perfect contest. Everything was perfect or close enough.
This is the perfect contest format: only twelve hours so you’re done before it gets slow and boring and before you fall asleep. It has CW for the real contester, SSB for those who don’t know CW and mixed mode for those who like their shots diluted.
It’s the perfect contest for those with limited antennas. No DX to be worked, only EU-EU so those with smaller and lower antennas get their share of fun too. And there is a lot to be worked, you never run out of stations to work.
It was the perfect weather here. Dry and no wind. Warm enough but not hot. No thunderstorms close by.
It was the perfect timing: I badly needed a perfect contest.
I wouldn’t be myself if among all this perfectness I wouldn’t point out some less perfect items. Like the QRN from thunderstorms to the east of me: Italy, the Balkan, the Baltic states. Which is exactly where I point the yagi from here (90°). Although the QRN was more pronounced on the low bands. And the propagation. At the start I thought I was without 10/15 but that more or less solved itself along the way.
But these two little beauty spots could not ruin my perfect contest. I never did so well in this one and broke my personal record from 2013.
- Best score: 390567 now: 432378
- Most QSO: 1289 now: 1378
- Most mults: 303 now: 314
I had a very slow start. I tried ten meters but it was almost dead. Not many callers and all weak signals. I didn’t want to get on 20 from the start. I commuted between ten and fifteen meter but it was slow. I had come to terms with 2016 being a slow year with average scores and this contest would not be an exception.
I decided to use the online score board. Two of my fellow countrymen joined in: OP5T and OR5T. It drove me mad to see them run away from me. Especially OP5T built a big score. I knew this was only possible by running on twenty meters which seemed to be the only productive band. So I decided to let it go and continue my own tactic. That is: try to make the most of 10/15 because 20 will be good later on too. In the meantime OR5T and I switched positions on each update but OP5T ran away and was in the top 5 position. I was… top 20 material. I’m a nice guy and I grant everyone their pleasure and success but my contesting ego wanted to restore the Belgian pecking order.
The second clock hour was above 100. This was acceptable especially coming from a first hour of only 75. But not what it should and could be. Then the rate picked up and I was on a roll. I left both my Belgian friends behind and could focus on a few other calls and climb my way to the sub-top. You can say many things about the online score board but just like in IARU last month, it added an extra dimension and made me stay focused and active when things got slow.
After the slow start the rate picked up and stayed high enough. My personal benchmark has become: try to work 100 QSO/hr averaged over the duration of the contest. So this would mean 1200 QSO in 12 hour. It became clear that this goal was within reach and along the way I logged more multipliers and a higher score than ever before. So in the end I was very happy. I would have never believed this eleven hours earlier.
Each year the question arises: how do the top scorers get so many multipliers??? And why can’t I?
I found Top Band to be very noisy and no skimmer outside of EU picked me up. I look at the propagation on the RBN and indeed: there was not a single EU-DX trace on the map. Only inside EU. This accounts for the lousy state in which 160m was.
After the contest I posted my score on 3830 and sent in the log because I was going away on Sunday. At night I went outside for a fresh nose and to flex the sore muscles. And a pee for the dog. The sky was clear and I got overwhelmed by a huge sense of satisfaction. This really was the perfect contest!