Team SZ1A in the CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest 2021 (video)

We’re Back, Bigger and Better Than Ever!

The known fact is that the Pandemic has left us with scars. If nothing else, it divided us into two: those who are vaccinated and those who are not, while at the same time, either due to fear or due to law, it left us without participation in competitions the way we were used to: all together.

So regrettably we were forced by law to leave some friends away, but on the bright side, those who can attend the station have a lot of appetite to have a good time with each other and to get back into competing in the contests. So we finally decided to participate normally in a contest.

And which contest?

The mother of all battles: the CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest.

This competition has marked us. From distant 1994 when RAAWG – SZ1A first gathered at the house of Konstantinos SV1CID, until today when SV1CID visited us, in a strange circumstance, to meet our future through the form of his son, little Orestes, it was as if we were starting again from the beginning…

We had tried running again on a small scale in May as a test run, in the CQ World Wide WPX Contest. However, this time, we would run fully and “normally” albeit without some friends due to the restrictions.

The station is not fully ready yet. Mainly due to covid, we have not yet gathered to work together. So a large backlog of pending work remains. We picked up some of the slack at the last minute a day before the contest began…

But among the projects not yet finished is the Yagi monobander for 40m that has not yet been placed on the tower, nor the dipole for 160m that has not been repaired yet.

Unfortunately, we were reminded how much we missed the 40m Yagi and how much it improved our station. Not a single QSO with Japan on 40m, while before we would have constant pileups! Another issue we had is that the station’s internet connection was cut last month, while for a long time now we have not had RX antennas as they need maintenance…

However, the enthusiasm of our participation created a wave on social media. The issue was that everyone was so used to the confinement due to the Pandemic, that almost no one called to participate as an operator! But everyone wanted to be there for the aftermath, to celebrate the coming of the “Contest Feast”. So we were left with only three full-time operators, John SV1GE, Andy SV1DKD and Dimitris SV1CIB.

Those who are not on shift in the station, enjoy the Sun and the smell of the BBQ on Contest Sunday

At the last moment, to our rescue, Vasilis SV1DPJ was able to attend also as a full-time op. Some shifts were finally done by Cliff SV1JG, Sotiris SV1BDO (when he had time off from the duties of our Master Chef), Kostas SV1DPI, and Panos SV1HKH.

However, it was difficult to achieve a good score since in the Multi-Single category that we participated in, instead of 3 stations (Run, Multiplier and Inband) most of the time we were able to just run one station (the RUN station), or at best two, and only for a very short time all three.

John SV1GE manning the RUN Station & Dimitris SV1CIB on the Multiplier Station

Combined with the problems we described, we are very pleased with our effort, as we managed to make about 3,600 QSOs which is the 5th largest number of contacts we have ever made, regardless of category and the 3rd largest in MS.

Of course, we missed the Multipliers since we were deprived of at least the basic ones on 160m (40 countries and 6-7 zones is an easy target), plus some more from the 40m Yagi antenna, plus some due to lack of manning of the multiplier station at all hours.

Many on the other hand were the ones who cooked and ate but you already know a lot about them if you follow our team on facebook! It really was there that we were praised (for our culinary skills – cooking & grilling) and we are the sure winners on social media at least (hi hi!).

Gordon Ramsay eat our dust!

The cooking skills of our Master Chef Sotiris SV1BDO and Grill Master Thanasis SV1CQK were on another level. From traditional Greek Trachana (sour porage) with mutton broth (!), to traditional Greek Roasted BBQ Lamb on the Spit and Kokoretsi!!!

The ouzo appetizers, lamb and kokoretsi made it a party as you can see from the videos and photos in our Facebook group.

With them are Kostas SV1CQG, Dimitris SV1SN but also many others who visited: Nikos SV1JMN, Giannis SV1CQR, Konstantinos SV1CID (who came with his son, little Orestes) among them.

Young Orestes was even “baptised” into Ham Radio, making his first-ever QSO together with Andy SV1DKD while the lamb took the form of Iphigenia who seems to have been sacrificed to celebrate the baptism of the young man (for those who are familiar with Ancient Greek Mythology). Orestes was thrilled, and can’t wait to get his ticket and join our team! There is hope yet that we will see a new generation of Amateur Radio Operators like Orestes!

With all of the above, our participation category was changed into a new one! “Multi-Single High Power with Roast Lamb and Kokoretsi!!!”

Our young friend and future SZ1A Member, Orestes (SV1CID/Junior – future OM)

Back to the contest again, we were unable to upload our score in real-time on cqcontest.net as we used to, since we did not have full internet access.

Luckily we had DX cluster access and we are very thankful for that, as John SV1GE and Vasilis SV1DPJ came to the rescue, and bought 4G remote access wifi routers, we connected a laptop that we had and it downloaded spots, and from there we ran an internal VE7CC cluster provided spots to the station network.

Thank goodness…

Nowadays, we are all spoiled with cluster spots and feel “blind” and “barehanded” without them.

After a long time, we used N1MM+ again, which was reliable and worked fine. We have not learned it so well yet to fully judge it, it has things that we are still looking at and for, but that it worked flawlessly was on the very positive side (compared to other times we tried it in the past).

Among all of these, and after a seemingly endless solar minimum, finally some good propagation emerged during the contest, with some really surprising band openings on 15m and 10m (we worked the world on 15m, and after years had a long-lasting pileup with South America on 10m), filling us with optimism and excitement that the “best is yet to come“. In detail, our claimed score is as follows:

As you can understand, everything went well with a lot of food and fun, as is usual at SZ1A, or the “Carnivore Contest Club” as some call us… We are happy and we are still picking up our pieces from fatigue… but that is a good thing, as it means we had a successful participation and a good time!

Detailed statistics, as always, at: https://www.qsl.net/sz1a/sh5/2021/2021_cq-ww-ssb_sz1a/index.htm

Andy SV1DKD gathered and edited all the videos that were uploaded on Facebook during the weekend into one, which is now available on our Youtube Channel, and we invite you to watch it, like and subscribe, so that you can also be the first to know whenever we upload new content!

And next year… everyone all together, since this year we missed those friends who are unvaccinated…

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