I am not a great fan of HF contests. As a QRPer, I find CW contests all but impossible as people tend to send and receive at incredible speeds usually with PCs. SSB is usually better and often the “other end” has worked you before realising you are running QRP. Later stages of contests are usually easier as the big guns are sweeping for remaining points and looking to work weaker stations.
I have been unable to work in the ARRL 10m contest (visitors this weekend) ) and I forgot the CQWW SSB contest this year! Last year, I was in hospital. It is 2 years since I last took part in CQWW SSB, which I find a very fruitful contest. I usually stick with 10m only.
Each Tuesday evening the RSGB organises a rotating series of VHF/UHF contests (UKAC) and I try to come on for the 50, 144 and 432MHz contests where I am at home and available. I use 5w pep and a V2000 vertical on 50MHz, a 3 el on 144MHz and 5 el on 432MHz. On 144 and 432MHz the antenna is hand-rotated. On 50MHz it is vertical and fixed. I can usually work 150-250km in these contests despite my 5W.