This was my first time trying out this contest as I had been off the air for the first 3 (2006-2008). I repaired my HF doublet antenna on the 31st of Dec so that I would be ready for the contest on the 1st. I had no real intention in taking part in the contest as such, more just to get on and give away a few points.
The contest started at 14:00 and lasted until 17:00.
14:00 to 15:00...I spent the first hour on CW calling CQ Test, worked 19 stations and gave away a few points.
15:00....Time for coffee!! ;o) I spent about 15 minutes listening around. Going from CW to SSB was like changing to a completely different band. On CW, there was hardly any contest activity at this stage. Just some G and European staions in qso mode. On SSB, the contest segment was hopping and all of the EI stations seemed very busy.
15:15 to 16:00....Back on CW calling CQ Test. Worked just 6 stations in 45 minutes with most of my CQ calls going unanswered. By 16:00, the CW part of the contest was well and truely over.
16:00....More coffee!! This CW is thirsty work ;o) The SSB section was still hopping at this stage. I was half thinking about calling it a day but seeing as how busy the band was, I decided to give away a few more points. Time to get the microphone out of the drawer ;o)
16:15 to 16:48...Tuned up and down the SSB part of the band giving away a few points.
16:48 to 17:00...Found a clear frequency and called CQ Contest so that anyone tuning around the band would find me. Worked about 16 stations in the last 12 minutes.
Totals......61 contacts, 25 on CW and 36 on SSB. 18 counties worked.
Overall Impression and thoughts.....
1) An excellent contest. 3 hours is just the right lenght, 80 metres is the right band and it was great to see so many EI stations on the band.
2) Good to see that the IRTS have not introduced that 'Sprint'/ 'QSY' rule like they did for the 2 metre counties contest.
3) After the first hour, the CW section of the contest was more or less over. If anyone is going to try CW, then the first hour is the time to be on that mode.
4) It seems a pity that for those in the Mixed contest, CW contacts only have the same value as SSB. If someone was going to try and win the mixed section, there would be a case for just working 2 to 3 CW contacts and then spend the rest of the contest on SSB to maximize the points. Perhaps if CW contacts had double or triple value, it might make things more interesting. i.e. Do you stay on CW with a lower qso rate but higher value points or do you try SSB with a higher qso rate but lower value points.
5) Looking at the results for the last 3 years, these were the entries...
It will be interesting to see what the entries for 2009 will be like. Listening to the serial numbers given in the contest, I'm guessing that the SSB numbers will be up while the Mixed entries will be low again.
So overall, a good fun event. I might try and make a serious effort at it next year.