One of my favorite events on the contest calendar. Despite my love for this one I skipped it in 2016 and 2017. Let’s call it ‘force majeur’. But I planned to be active in some form this year. Maybe a single band effort? But that is mixed mode in this one so that leaves out SB80 since I have to adjust the wire for either mode: longer for CW and shorter for SSB. I can’t do both at once. SB40 is out of the question. No SSB on 40 please. SB20 would be a good compromise then. Of course I prefer all band but propagation being what it is…
Along came Denis K7GK. I met Denis in 2007 when he was on a business trip in Belgium. We spent a day together with small talks and discussing ham radio. We kept in touch ever since and have worked numerous times in the contests. Since a few months he’s deployed in Holland by his employer. The guys at PI4COM were so kind as to let him play radio. And so Denis sent me an email with the subject: ‘LRCS-2018’. What’s that? In short: he dared me to a direct confrontation in this year’s Russian DX Contest which he dubbed ‘Lowlands Russian Contest Shootout’. Category: SOSB HP CW only. At least I could battle him in my preferred category. Challenge accepted! Since he only had one transceiver I left my second rig off and didn’t do SO2R. Only fair. PI4COM is about 120 km from here in a straight line so the location isn’t making much difference. Of course they have big monoband yagi’s and I have a small tribander… So that will be my excuse when the shootout goes bad for me.
We would give each other an hourly update with a skype message. I would also log on to the cqcontest.net real time score board.
Along came the contest. My plan was to forget ten meters. Starting off on 15 would not be a good idea. So I was going to run on twenty to start. Before the start I listened on 21 MHz. There was life from Russia with pretty decent signals compared to the recent contests. Thus I started the contest on 15. It wasn’t a hot start but 92 contacts in an hour with plenty of oblasts was more than I had hoped for. The second hour I ran on twenty meters. That hour netted 143 QSO. That’s more like it. But not what it once was with the SFI much higher and the K a little lower.
The graph shows that it actually was a close race. In the ninth hour Denis took a short leap because he had worked some multipliers on 160/80 while I didn’t go there yet. Then I took and kept a slight lead but at the end I spent too much time trying to work multipliers on 10 meters that didn’t come after all. During that time Denis ran 20 and 15 like crazy. That was a tactical mistake by yours truly. However had ten opened up just slightly and I had worked a only dozen multipliers… As the saying goes: ‘If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas’.
In the end I have a numeric victory that is too small. It’ll come down to log checking. But it doesn’t matter. Two guys had a blast doing what do they best: CW contesting.
A few thoughts:
- Denis’ idea brought the most fun I had in a contest since a loooong time. I like the online score reporting but a direct confrontation is something else. I cannot keep up with guys in eastern EU having multiple towers and stacks and probably running more than my 1200 W. Or guys at better locations.
- This duel kept me in the chair. I’m sure I would have slept a few hours, even too many hours without Denis having slapped his glove in my face. I took two breaks though. My butt was sore and I wanted to keep the blood flowing. And I had to take care of the body’s I/O.
- I only worked five Americans on 15 but not a single VE. That’s how the HF propagation conditions are… Same on 160: only three Americans (AA3B, N1UR and KO7SS remote from W1) and not even one VE. VE9ML was too weak to call. XL3A (if I recall correctly) was louder but didn’t reply to me.
- The salt ’n pepper of contesting for me is working or being called by nice DX: 3B, 3C, 5Z, 9M2, EX (long time not worked!), HS, SU (!), VK, YB, ZB. No ZL though. One JA on 40 and five on 20. KL2R calling me out of the blue while just swinging the yagi from USA to JA. Yeehaw!
- I did miss the second radio. When things are slow, you can always maintain a slow run and fill the log with contacts on the second radio.
- I’m quite happy with the end result of 1850 QSO. It’s not my best score because of the poor conditions but I’d have settled for 1500-1600 contacts.
DR OM K7GK: When’s the next shootout?