One nice thing about open logs in the CQWW DX contests is that you can compare with your local competition to see where you excelled, and where you need to improve.
For the 2010 CQWW DX CW contest, the AH2R team entered the M/S category, while I was SOABHP. The final results just came out; our final scores were very close, within 100K points.
The AH2R team operates from a hotel in the tourist district. The hotel is set on the hillside, overlooking beach front hotels. The view (and takeoff) to the West is remarkable, and they have a great shot to Europe and JA. Their shot to North America, however, is very unremarkable. The have monoband yagis for 40-10m, along with phased 80m verticals and a 160m vertical installed on the roof for the contest weekend only.
On the contrary, my station is much smaller. I have a pretty good takeoff to Europe and JA also, but nothing like the drop off at AH2R’s hotel. My takeoff to North America is better than AH2R’s, but nothing to brag about. My station is smaller, with a Spiderbeam up 35ft, 40m dipole, 40m vertical, and 80/160m TEE vertical.
The above screen shots were taken from UA4WLI’s SH5 log analysis software. I highly recommend it.
A few things are telling from the analysis. I ended up with nearly 500 more QSOs than AH2R, and that’s even with 4 hours of off time. I suspect this was because of a number of reasons. First of all, I spent more time focusing on North America. I QSYed to 15 early both mornings to catch the East Coast opening, while AH2R chose to focus on working EU on 20 (and catching more multipliers). Likewise, I went to 40 and 80 early, before sunrise in Eastern NA, while AH2R stayed on 15m longer to catch the end of the European opening. The USA can not work each other for points, while Europeans can, so I preferred to focus on rate and run the USA when possible since I did not have to compete with continental QSOs.
Something I failed to mention previously is that AH2R suffers from being in a high noise environment. Being located in the tourist district means they have to listen to all the neon lights and other noise generators downtown. When pointing toward NA, they are beaming directly into the N/S main power line feeder on Guam and an industrial area with high noise. On the contrary, I live 2 miles north of AH2R, and have a very quiet QTH. My US Navy housing area has underground utilities, and my unit is located along the fence line with nothing but jungle to my north. During marginal openings, I suffer with smaller antennas but benefit from a quiet location.
Finally, I am very active outside of contests. I think that many underestimate the benefits of being active. Callsigns are more familiar to me, which helps increase the rate. I know that 9HP is probably YO9HP for example. This activity not only helps me recognize calls, but also understand propagation. It looks like I caught a great sporadic E opening to JA on 10m the 1st day that AH2R largely missed, rewarded with big rates.
My secret weapon are my Beverage antennas. I now have four, covering SA, NA, EU/JA, and AF. These receive antennas are extremely effective, and as a result I thoroughly trounced AH2R on 80 and 160m. The gentlemen at AH2R told me after the contest that they were frustrated listening to me run EU on 160m that they could not hear.
It looks to me, following this comparison, that my weak areas are 40 and 20m. During the contest, there was a two hour window both days, from 0300-0500 both mornings (local time), when I could not work anything. AH2R maintained rate during these hours; I took them off. This 03-05 local time window is during EU sunset, when they are busy working each other. This forms an effective wall that is hard to break through, and attempts to run are thwarted by key clicks and guys taking the frequency. AH2R was much more effective in running EU on 40m with their 2el yagi, so this is one aspect where I can try to improve my station. 20m is also a difficult band for me, with my antenna up only 35ft.