*EDITORIAL* Contesting on 11m

Just as they do on ham bands, contests on the eleven meter band attract loads of participants.  DA-RC HQ Member and experienced contester Darren takes a look at why the contesting phenomena has become such a popular experience amongst ‘Freeband’ DXers…

Since the first G.R.I. Alfa Tango World Contest took to the airways almost 40 years ago, 11m contesting has become an interminable feature of 11m band culture.  This is largely due to the innovativeness of radio clubs who cater for 11m enthusiasts; organisations whom have continued to turn out unique and high-quality events and so quench the competitive juices of spirited DX enthusiasts.

Besides a unique and/or effectively managed experience, what’s the allure of contests?  Why do guys get behind the mic for hours at a time?  Here are some possible explanations…

1.  The Challenge

It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most dynamic contesters on 11m have accumulated more than 250 DXCC.  These ‘Big Guns’ are now hunting for new challenges; new frontiers to conquer in their hobby; a meaningful pursuit to keep them occupied while they patiently await a “new one”.

These guys tend to also use contests as an opportunity to strike off a new IOTA, DXCC or  regional DX award. (See https://www.delta-alfa.com/projects/awards/ )

2.  For Fun

For others, it’s not the actual result that matters — it’s the satisfaction, enjoyment and pride they obtain from plain participation; from being involved in something with like-minded individuals and contributing to the overall success of an event.  Not always their own club’s too.

These guys see contests as a great way to make friends!

3.  Thrill of the Chase

Many contesters partake because they love the thrill of the chase.  They lust for the adrenalin rush of obtaining a new ‘multiplier’ and celebrate accordingly when any level of success is achieved.  Quite often, these guys prefer the ‘Search & Pounce’ method whereby they can prowl the band looking for new and/or rare ones to work. (See https://www.delta-alfa.com/contesting-strategy-tips/ )

They also use contests as a stage for testing equipment such as new radios and antennas.

4.  To Compete

While stopping short of a ‘win at all costs’ or ‘cut throat’ attitude, the competitive nature of some makes contest participation, and the chance to win wonderful prizes, impossible to ignore.

These guys generally know the contest calendar off by heart, can reel off past winners, contest rules and regs and propagation forecasts for each.

Their radio shack mantelpiece is quite often stacked high with sparkling trophies, medallions, pennants and other DX awards too.

In addition to material reward, these guys get fulfillment from beating others (including their own past scores or PB’s), from reaching a goal, from developing new and improved strategies and also from improving the capabilities of their station.

They take care in selecting a TX location and equipment, and use technology where appropriate to boost their performance.

5.  The notion of ‘Tabla Rosa’ (Latin for ‘Blank Slate’)

A great thing about contests is that everyone starts off on an equal footing, or, what some DA-RC contesters refer to as a ‘Tabla Rosa’ (i.e. a ‘blank slate’).

This is particularly attractive to ‘Small Pistols’ who rely on variables to help determine their success.  Unpredictabilities such as propagation and the involvement of competitors with bigger stations, due to work, social/family commitments, etc.

They take part with the view that “determination and a blank slate, coupled with favorable conditions and the absence of a few ‘Big Guns’, can result in success!”

Thanks to inventive radio clubs such as Alfa Tango, and others like Sugar Delta, Romeo Charlie and our own Dx Adventure Radio Club (DA-RC) in recent years, contesting has grown to be an 11m band tradition.

Ingenious contest managers continue to design new and exciting formats, with wonderful prizes, and so tap in to the needs and wants of hobbyists who use it as a viable platform for their DX work.

Whether it’s the thrill of the chase which inspires them, or the fun, the chance to compete, to realize a new challenge or target, or perhaps something else altogether, these events will carry on adding to the thrill of arguably the best DX band of all!

73 de Darren, DA-RC