RadioSport History | CQ World Wide DX CW 1978

How did the titans of RadioSport in the 70s score inside the Box or achieve a world record score without our modern version of spotting networks? How did they manage without the availability of today’s technology such as software controlled radios, switching boxes for single operator 2 radios, or CW Skimmer capable computers?

Perhaps, hours and hours, of skill development in front of the radio, continually improving antenna systems, melting solder on the workbench, and listening to the airwaves for nearly the same amount of time.

Spotting Networks.
Brockman and Cox (1979) stated, “All of a sudden the adrenaline is flowing. The eyes are now bright and intense. In a flash our hero has his VFO zeroed in on the prize. There, on 40 CW, is zone 23! But who? Not to be denied, our hero plunges in with his call. As he comes up for air, he hears the prize once more. JT1AN.” (p 43)

Today, the art of listening before taking on the flash swarm generated by spotting networks, is in need of serious re-purposing. The proliferation of junk data is reaching epic proportions as described in various RadioSport reflectors. The utility of the networks, at least in my estimation, is in slow decline. One that, if, left on its own in its present configuration, may harm Box scores and world record attempts.

In 1978, OH2BH piloted CT3BZ in the Madeira Islands, to a new single operator all band world record held only for a year by Dick Norton, N6AA who operated 9Y4AA. Additionally, according to Brockman and Cox, for the first time ever a single band entrant broke the one million point barrier (1979). Jorge, LU8DQ accomplished the impossible.

It was a tremendous year for those seeking world or continental records.

599 Never Dies.
Are we still having this conversation? Apparently, we are, because in 1978 many operators according to the article lobbied the committee asking them to jettison the report. It was suggested that the committee would look into the matter.

RadioSport Ethics.
Computerized logging begins its slow march toward dominating RadioSport. However, in its infancy, an alphabetized cross check reference list was required. Padded logging plagued log checkers then like the unsavory method of rubber clocking in the 21st Century.

On the other hand, one entrant miscopied JA callsigns to the tune of 20 percent of the log total, according to Brockman and Cox (1979); it was unacceptable. The voice of history suggested everyone concentrate on accuracy and not as much on speed.

They managed to compete and win without the aid of flash swarms generated by spotting networks. Perhaps, back in the day, data traveled slowly weaving itself through VHF/UHF links while a team of spotters carefully listened on high frequency. One’s reputation was on the line while waiting for an opportunity in the pilot’s seat.

I’m convinced a new spotting platform is needed for the longevity of the sport. One that will correct errant oft times malicious data which may lead to irreparable damage when chasing a world or continental score.

My take away in a sport that cherishes speed is one can be accurate and speedy however accuracy trumps speed ever time.

Lastly, will we ever retire 599?

73 from the shackadelic on the beach.

Reference: Brockman, L. N6AR, Cox, B. K3EST (October, 1979). CQ Magazine: 1978 CQ World Wide DX Contest: C.W. Results. pp. 43 – 53.

Scot Morrison, KA3DRR, is a regular contributor to and writes from California, USA.

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