YCCC Scuttlebutt #124, August 1996
12Z (5 AM PDT....yawn) AR wins the coin toss and starts the contest. We get 7003 and start running. JA, UA0, Ws. 10-Q rate meter peaks at 236. Hour ends up at 151 Qs. Later find out that N2NT has been listening to us, and has figured out that "that *has* to be AR running those JAs".
13Z DG takes the chair as the rate drops. Some heckler shows up and sends "jerk out of the band" over and over again. Rate meter peaks up as high, but drops to very low rates sporadically. Near the end, people stop calling altogether, so I run around calling other WRTC guys. 112 Qs for the hour.
14Z AR again. Stays on 40 for a while. I tune 20 waiting for it to open. First stations heard are K1RM and W1WEF, running mostly Ws. When more stations begin to appear, we go to 20. No rate. Back to 40 CW. Rate meter hits 220 briefly. I listen on 40 SSB - K6S is there, but only working locals. Tune 20 SSB; the only guy there is W9RE. 116Qs for the hour.
15Z DG back. 20 opens. Boom. Rate meter goes up and up. Mostly Ws, but some JAs, and apparently we hit the VE3 cluster. 156 Qs, all CW.
16Z AR tries 15 CW. Runs locals, but nobody else. Hits 20 SSB - boom! 10-Q meter hits 455. All W5/6/7. Nothing way back east. At 1630 I hear W6W running guys I can't hear on the di-pole. K6K is rocking to the east coast at 1640, and I still can't hear the guys he's working. 150 Qs for the hour, 71 SSB, 79 CW.
17Z DG takes the chair. We gotta get things going on 15. Try again - no good. Back to 20 SSB for a few minutes, then back to 15 CW. Getting a bit better, maybe we should try SSB. It's OK, but not great. We figure we need to keep the SSB rate at 2x the possible CW rate or else go back to CW. We are changing modes a lot trying to keep the rate up. 116 hour with all the band changes.
18Z AR does 15 SSB for a while - it's the best rate we can scare up. Goes to CW and a KH6 calls. Yes!!! I hear K6K work W1BIH on 10 CW on the spotting rig and I CAN HEAR 'BIH!! We go to 10, and work some, but nobody seems loud. K1ZX calls in, followed 6 Qs later by AC1O. Sorry, Walt. End the hour on SSB. 141 total; 92 of them on SSB.
19Z DG sits in. Can't find rate anywhere. Try 10 SSB, 10 CW, 20 CW, 15 CW. All are pretty bad. I heard an XE on 10 SSB while I was on the spotting rig; I point the quad south towards the rest of the WRTC guys and hope for the best. Bingo - two XEs call in. I try to get a good freq on 15 CW, but S50C opens up. All the Ws would rather work him than me! Hey! He's stolen my freq. Oh, well - working Europe on 15 would be cool and we could use the mult. But he never hears me. Much time has passed, and the rate is in the tank. QSO number 1000 is VE7/W6AQ on 20 CW. Only 87 this hour, all but 5 on CW. Frustrating, but I can't get anything going on any band. What am I doing wrong? Has there been a flare or something horrible?
20Z AR takes over. Yeah...if anyone can pick up the rate, it's my ole partner here. He bounces around, trying to get it going. I find TI1C on 15 - aha! A mult. Quick, John - 21248! Right now! Then I hear Carlos say "Sure, I'll go to 20 - 14248 right now". Hold it John - someone just passed him to 14248 - go back to 20! He does, but Carlos works his one guy then goes right back to his pileup on 15. John snags him, but is buried while asking him to go back to 20. This puts us off the idea of passing mults. Bad move. Anyway, the rate still is lousy. 93 Qs for the hour, 46 CW, 47 SSB.
21Z DG again. 10 and 15 are history. 20 CW is picking up. K1ZX asks us to go to 15, and I try it. Nada. Back to 20. At the end of the hour, I switch to SSB. Pow! 10-Q meter hits 460. End the hour with 141; 52 of 'em in 10 minutes of SSB.
22Z AR bouncing between 20 CW and 20 SSB. Rate is up and down. 120 for the hour.
23Z We have begun to hear some Europeans on 20 CW. And they can hear us if we call long enough! This raises our multiplier from pitiful to merely bad. It's only an 81 hour, but it's chock-full of mults.
00Z AR takes over and really wants 20 SSB to produce. We waste 5 minutes calling TR8IG with no luck, but work YV, FM, and 5N0T. I am drinking "Tangerine Wavelength" to try and help the propagation, but it isn't helping. 122 Qs for the hour, mostly SSB.
01Z DG on the run rig again. AR tunes the spotting rig on 20 between my CQs. The rate is fair, and I knock off the mults as he finds them. G3TXF and GI0KOW call in. It's a struggle to get SK0HQ to hear us, but we make it. We end this hour with 112 Qs, for 1700 total and 1000 of them on 20.
02Z AR has been tuning 20 for the last hour, and knows it's peaking, so he goes to 20 SSB. Rock and roll! 204 this hour, 177 on SSB, including GW4BLE calling in.
03Z We both operate some this hour. We make two trips to 40 for mults (FM/WJ2O and W1AW/3). We hear ZD8Z on 40 CW, and he's real loud, but the pile up is enormous. He seems to be taking a long time to anser - maybe listening hard for weak WRTC guys, but it seems like a lost cause and we don't even try. I find out later that some WRTCers made it, and others worked ZD8DEZ. A double mult gets away. Some of the WRTCers are running on 40, but we seem to be doing OK on 20. At the end of the hour, it looks like 40 would have been a better choice. 86 Qs for the hour, but a lot of mults again.
04Z We both put in some time this hour also. I hit 40 SSB, and have a huge pile call in - almost all W5/6/7. Notable exceptions are K1EA and K3WW. The 10-Q meter goes to 526. When it slows down, I do some 40CW, with trips to 20 whenever AR has spotted 2 mults. Now our multiplier has risen from bad to so-so.
05Z Last hour - AR in the chair, doing 40 CW. I spot mults on 20 SSB - we work KH0AC and 8J3XHQ (both of which turn out to be uniques for WRTCers, as we later find out, and neither of which is removed from the log). We also get through the big pileup of WRTCers calling DU1SAN. I hear a P29, who is rag-chewing and goes away before we can get him.
At the end, we have 2273 Qs before dupes (of which there are about 45). The log checkers remove about 6 Qs (plus penalty) from our log, and we agree they all deserved to go. There are a few more that are questionable, but it wouldn't matter anyway. AR has averaged 135 Qs per hour, and I've done 115. But looking closer, our QSO POINTS per hour averages are almost iden-tical (DG 209, AR 211). I've just done more CW and AR has done more SSB. Kind of a role-reversal from our usual.
It was great. Really. The gang who organized it all pulled off a major logistics, finance, and political event. A lot of time and effort went into it. There was a lot of talk about when and where the next one will be held, and speculation on which country could organize it. K7SS accepted the task of chairing the steering committee to figure it out. If you think you have a way to do the next one, contact him.
Were the stations / antennas / locations / operating desks / ant infestations / proximity-to-salt-water / distance-from-hills / line-noise / your-favorite-excuse-here identical, as hoped? Not really. It's probably impossible to accomplish that, short of building 54 locations with verticals on the same stretch of beach or desert somewhere. What is true is that the range of station capabilities was much tighter than in any other contest. Nobody had a huge advantage over anyone else. Period. The WRTC-96 organizers did a as well as could be reasonably expected, and they are to be commended for an outstanding effort.
Everyone had an equal probability of drawing a TH7 looking over salt water or a TA33 in a valley, or something in between. The screen saver at our station host's PC said "Do the best you can with what you have", and I don't think he put it there just for the contest. We all did the best we could with what we had. And had a ball doing it.
Lots of people asked me how WRTC-96 in SF compared to WRTC-90 in Seattle. All I can say is that it was different. Not better, not worse; just different. Seattle was a "first" and there can never be another "first". I think that maybe I got to know the other competitors better in Seattle, since there were fewer of them. Maybe it was the fascination with the USSR teams who were almost all visiting the U.S. for the first time. I dunno if the stations were any more equal in Seattle; probably not. There was more activity in WRTC-96, and the longer hours provided a few more interesting openings. The whole event was just as much fun (results aside, of course!) as the first one.
Sure, it was a bit of a let-down after winning in 1990. But I look at it this way: I got to spend a whole week with over 100 of the best contesters in the world. We ate together, we drank together, we swam together, we laughed together. We rode the buses together. We compared lives together. We all got to operate a contest together, yet separately; a special contest set up just for us; to compete against each other, yet to share together. You guys out there who supported the event by working us were all a part of it. You'll all get nice cards and some of you will get awards for your efforts. The rates were great, and the memories will last a lifetime. Can't ask for a much better time than that.
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