I can copy-paste the first paragraph: not ready to even try 48hr in the chair, two bands lost (10-15), want to sleep in between band openings yada yada yada. So for the third year in a row: SB40(A) HP.
The week leading up to the contest was busy and I was tired. I was afraid I’d get a cold or worse. Luckily all bacteria and viruses either skipped me or I am resistant. Knock on wood. Friday evening: the XYL was out so I put the kids to bed and was in mine around 8.30 PM local time. I already had amp, rig and PC running so I set the alarm to ring at 0030 local time, which translates to thirty minutes to get into the shack. And a good three hours sleep before the start.
Aahh, the start. It’s safe to say it’s the slowest first hour in CQ WW CW in many, MANY years. Only 98 QSO. Since I was late to the party, the interesting real estate was gone. The whole 40m band was jam-packed and I couldn’t squeeze in. So I told myself to stay calm and just S&P before running. I don’t like S&P. But still I did. The second hour I finally could get running and netted 175 QSO. Hour #3 added another 140. That’s more like it. I thought the band was good. Not spectacular, but it could be a lot worse. Not too much noise or QRM and a steady stream of signals from all over the planet. The way it’s supposed to be. I went through the sunrise but then activity dropped. K5ZD says on 3830:
“As good as 80m was at Eu sunrise, what happened to 40m? It was empty even as I worked Europeans on 160 and 80 well past their sunrise.”
Yup – exactly the same from here. Where was the USA? There was the occasional DX but running was unproductive. Bummer. I decided to take a break and some sleep.
I had 1143 QSO and 106 countries after ten hours. During the good first part of day 1 I was #1 on the online score board. That was motivating. Only three others were competitive: I2IFT, IR4K and S57Z.
Back around 1430 UTC. The Italians caught up so I had to pursue. Unexpectedly the band was alive again and full of loud EU wanting to work the Far East. BY, HS, YB, ZL, 9M2, 9M6, 3B, JA: it was all there. Even a dozen long path zone 3 stations called in. On a dipole. And a lost W1 on SP too. So it’s safe to say the band was good. Except for KH6 and KL7. KL7RA was on the bandmap all the time and three KH6 stations but none heard so none worked. Maybe later on… Saturday evening was calm. The sustained rate was about 100/hr. Just before midnight I was very tired and the rate had gotten very low. Lethal combination. So I decided to sleep and come back.
Somewhere along 4O3A had signed in to the real time score system and he was SB40 too. That was after I took the bragging snapshot above. He had such a lead in QSO and points (NOT in mults!) that even the Italians probably couldn’t catch him. So that took the pressure away and from now on it was me against myself.
QRV 0230 UTC. Slow hours. Little multipliers. Not enough three point contacts. And although the band was and stayed open, there was little to be worked. Boring and my only unofficial goal seemed impossible: beat my own ON record set last year. A quick extrapolation told me that I would have to work a lot of 3pt stations to even get there. Since the score didn’t really build, I decided to take a nap and get lunch with the family. I did want to get in the shack again earlier to work the Far East again. Still no KH6 or KL7 heard…
I worked a steady stream of stations in a 9000 km range, quite a few exotic DX and the occasional multiplier. AH2R was weak and had a fierce pile up going. XV9D was happy to greet me. Who is he? QRZ told me: Mats SM6LRR / RM2D. That explains! When would 9V1YC get on? He never did this time but 9V1XX did and I was happy to log the multiplier. Then two D1 stations called me. N1MMLogger flagged these as a mult but they probably aren’t. Politics… Later on I tried AH2R again and managed to work him.
Sunday evening was slow. VERY slow. Every multiplier that showed up had the same DX cluster pile up. With EU in the arena, it soon gets brutal. I went to listen for KL7RA or KH7B or whatever whenever they got into the bandmap but nothing. I heard an EA5 work KL7RA. QRZ shows a picture of a big tower and what looks like a three or even four element yagi. ‘Nuff said.
I was approaching last year’s record. But it felt as if I wouldn’t make it. It was too slow, the band acted weird (rising noise, signals dropping). I was working under 30/hr. Ugh. HQ9M had a rough time with the EU pigs. Yet I outsmarted most powerhouses. ZD7W was surprisingly easy for a double multiplier. And big thanks to 5U9AMO to give the score a final boost. Since running didn’t get me over the line, I decided to move up and down the band looking for three pointers. I found a bunch and finally the total showed more mults, more QSO and more points than last year. My only fear is that this time the margin really is too small to improve my own record.
I won’t be doing much analysis. I worked almost 550 USA stations. Other DX:
BY = 22 PY = 10 VU = 7 VE = 31 VK = 14 VU = 7 YB = 8 ZL = 4
And tons of unique DX multipliers. Thanks to all going places!
BTW: 108 dupes, what’s up with that??? Some guys even called me three times!
It was fun and I think this is the best you can do from Belgium with just a rotatable dipole at 23m high. Both RX loops with diversity RX on the K3 seem a good addition.