My contesting invariably is to do a single band entry on one of the three higher bands due to the very small footprint of my property, the low bands are my nemesis. Despite that my favourite contest on the calendar is Beru, I may have poor LF antennas,  it may be slow at times, it may be frustrating due to propagation but it produces the ultimate challenge in terms of skill and strategy and perhaps, one day, I shall master at least one of those. I was very pleased to see a host of new calls that I don’t recall before – still many stalwarts of the G3 era but many more G0, G6, G&, M0, M3, keep them coming and Beru shall not die.

So what did 2015 throw at us? For a start band cndx were very poor. On HF, VE (and Oceana on 15/20m LP Sunday am) the dx stns were just not there. 15/20 had high level noise, 10m was quieter but not so productive for dx. 40m was also generally poor and together with 80m the MUF fell below those bands and after 0100z there was little to be heard. Our sunrise is too early to benefit from LP 40/80m from Oceania so there is no morning benefit from those bands, or perhaps better LF antennas could tell me something different!.

Because of the poor cndx I found S&P very frustrating with not a lot to show for it although I spent a deal of time at it and later read about an A35, 9V!, VK5/7 etc being worked  that I never came across. I did manage VP9 on 4 bands and J34 on 3 bands but Caribbean,ZS and C5 were very weak and always a struggle. Also weak was Alan in 5X, he called me on 3 bands yet I never came across him one time in all my S&P. All of Africa is usually a steal from here. V5 was never strong but we made 4 bands, thanks for sticking with me on 40m Nigel.

Before going to 80m I had probably gathered the highest no of 4 banders ever and had high hopes for a fistful of 5 banders  (Sorry Roger, I was looking for SXW especially!). Horror of horrors – the band was crammed full of East/ Central Europeans doing a new ‘Tesler' contest. There was always an Ukranian affair in previous years which was a nuisance but at least that ceased at midnight, this one was not due to end until 8.00am! This occasion the 9A1AA ES6 etc big contest guns were out, the band was a complete mess as we are so relatively close for that band. I just could not find a space to call, if I did I was soon seen off in probably less than one minute. I could hear very few Beru stns, notable cq’ers who made it through the noise more consistently were the usual suspects ‘3BJ, G4BJM,  G4FNL’ G4BUO, G5LP. M0DHO. I had to stick with it to make some sort of show and managed a few more UK and some VE with greater difficulty. I did hear VP9 but Mike was buried under the ‘Teslers'. I don’t like to blast through others on the same qrg but my small amp would do little blasting, a toothpick storming the Bastille comes to mind. I also have to admit that whilst I did not cq down below 3510, tempting as it was so quiet and empty down there, I did answer two or three Beru running stns down there and wondered if I would be penalised, deciding that I was not alone I did a WFWL. Total q’s on 80m was a miserable 28 with only 7 bonus’s

As we saw, that new Africa contest was a non event, I heard only a couple of stns calling for Africa. As it was to be work allcomers I did anticipate some more than usual aggravation from guys looking for a mult but in fact it was no worse than previous years. Actually I was grateful to one of them. Early Sunday am I had been calling into a dead band on 10m with no response and about to give up when a solitary JA called, so I stuck with it and raised a few weak VK’s 2/3/6. Another surprise was a call from G3SJX at 0620, the next UK stn was heard there  about 2 hours later.

Did I enjoy it?, as they say ‘You bet’,  Do I want Skimmer, Cluster, RBN? – No.  SO2R? maybe, but I can’t do it usefully, guess I am too old to learn multi tasking. One thing for sure – after looking through my CQWW SSB log report I really must, at least try, to learn to touch type to reduce those busted calls and reports!

Final totals were – 24 hr High Power, Unassisted.  873 qso’s after dupes with 187 bonus inc 15 HQ stns – Total points – 8080. I wonder how many fat finger errors will show up after the log check report?

Brian C4Z / 5B4AIZ.