the "Big One"
A Real Story told
by the Author
As seen in NCJ May-June
When I first got
involved in contesting in 1993, I did not suppose that a few years
later my hobby's main goal would be to win plaques in all possible contesting
My biggest Odyssey ever,
was the preparation and participation for this year's
The preparation and the participation are equally important and add to
one thing in the final score. Many things have to be taken into consideration
when preparing for a contest. The choice of the best possible contesting
is perhaps the most important. Also, when you consider that during the
hours of a major contest your station has to adapt to the most varied propagation
conditions to all and any parts of the world, and that many times you'll
be working stations just above the noise level of the band, finding a "silent"
QTH has to be a top priority. There are hours during a contest, when you
can bet there will be no propagation to anywhere...you still hear the stations
calling as a mysterious echo and you know you are being heard out of pure
Competing in a contest
and not aiming at the top positions, is like going out fishing and not
dreaming of catching a big game fish. When you consider that in order
to take part in a Contest you have to sacrifice such things as time with
your wife and children, a few good meals and many precious hours of sleep,
you understand that at least the illusion of winning the sought after plaque
is the only thing that can make up for all these privations!
My present contesting
QTH is definitely the perfect contesting QTH. The location is Villa
Elisa, a small country town just 15 miles to the South of Asuncion.
The family farm is located in a beautiful valley at just a few hundred
yards from the Paraguay River. On the opposite shore is Argentinean territory.
My family bought the land to build a weekend home (and fishing in the Paraguay
River can be quite rewarding). At the time, I hardly realised that 20 years
later it would also prove to be the perfect contesting QTH.
conducted by a crew from RCA, which had been hired by the Government
to spot the best places in Paraguay to locate repeaters and all different
kinds of antenna systems, showed clearly that the Villa Elisa Valley was
the perfect place.
So, here I am putting
up my 15 meters stacked array in "Contesting Paradise". Tower and
antenna work started the week prior to the 1997 CQWW SSB contest and ended
only a few hours before the beginning. The final setup looks impressive
and is definitely a landmark in this isolated part of the country. Two
things proved to be a lifetime lesson for future endeavours: lacking the
time to put up a lightning protection system and reasonable pre-contesting
activity, I was forced to unplug every coaxial for over 6 hours
due to a major lightning "El Niño style" storm.
You can't imagine
how frustrating it can be having to go QRT in the middle of a JA pile-up
due to a total lack of lightning protection!
Lack of pre-contest
activity proved to be a major disadvantage too because I was not prepared
for the unique operation characteristics in the Villa Elisa Valley and
I found myself learning as I was competing.
48 hours and 3665
contacts later I was still dreaming of the plaque...I do know now that
whatever is left unresolved, will leave a door open for
- of "Murphy's Law fame - to show up. And so he did. My only consolation
is having broken my country's all time score in the CQWW and knowing
that next year is still free to keep dreaming.