Comments on the Commonwealth Contest (White paper Paras 2.10 and 6.9)

I am a keen participant in the Commonwealth Contest. Since 2008 I have put on a CC station from Africa 7 times (Uganda 4, Rwanda 2 and Kenya 1). I would be reluctant to see it become “World works the Commonwealth” as that would change the character of this oldest of contests.

The unique characteristic of CC is that stations with low power and simple antennas can work Commonwealth stations across the world. CW speeds are relatively modest and it is suitable for old timers and new comers. It is conducted with some courtesy. Some love it for that – others don’t. I usually enter the restricted class (100w and wire antenna) and have done so quite successfully, even at sunspot minimum . With that power and antenna I am unable to get into other worldwide contests from East Africa in any serious way – and I know because I have tried. For them I need more gain (a beam) and preferably more power. CC has a place as a “simpler” contest.

I suspect the main pressure for change to CC comes from those who want to amass many more contacts than are currently possible in CC. The CC is not for them – there are plenty of other contests where the main theme is run like a maniac and “pile ‘em high”. “Commonwealth works the world” would undoubtedly bring out the contest “big guns” who swamp the bands on a regular basis in the larger contests.

When I first entered CC (in 1969 from Kenya) there were many expatriate and local “overseas” stations to liven up the contest. Now it is very dependent on travellers to provide variety. For the present that is probably (just) sustainable.

The CC is a quite disciplined contest. It lasts only 24 hours and contestants stick quite closely to a section of the CW allocation – not all over the bands. I recommend little change – although the scoring to advantage relatively rare calls might be increased (I made a separate suggestion for that after the 2015 contest). I support the proposal that CQs should be “CQ CC” – “CQ BERU” is impossible to explain.

Outside CC there are two areas where the RSGB could consider change. The 21/28 Contest has, in my view, run its course in its present form. As sunspots diminish it will be increasingly difficult to get much out of it. That contest slot could be ideal base for an RSGB international contest – if that is the wish. Also I would draw attention to the All Africa contest which was organised last year by SARL. It clashed with CC and was advertised far too late to be successful. However the concept has merit and RSGB might consider working with SARL to develop it.
Nick Henwood G3RWF

(Also 5X1NH, 9X0NH and 5Z4LS in CC)