WPX CW 2013 is going on right now. I have worked 4 stations in it. It may be all I will have worked in this contest. Yesterday, it was pretty good especially on the higher bands. I could hear all continents on 15m at the same time at midnight here. By early evening here today, PJ6A was sending 3300 plus. They could go over 4500 or even 5000 when the contest is over. On the other hand, big guns have called CQ in vain for 10 or 15 min on 40m this evening. Does it mean that the condition is dropping or that there are less participants in the contest?
I don't know how contests have been started in ham radio. I guess, when it was really hard for them to work with far distance, it was to test how one's set up worked or how the band conditions were etc in the beginning. Later, by mid 50s or so, it has become events of competetion. They have started to set big amps and to install big antennas. The purpose was genuinly to win in the race. Around 1990 and on, the stations were equipped with PC and internet. Since it became quite possible for us to talk to anywhere in the wold at any time, the original end of contests has lost its meaning.
There were two kinds of stations in the participants. One group was the big contesters with the biggest set ups while there were the ordinary stations with modest set ups who won't dare competing in it but just enjoy contests for a while. The former ones have been active throughout the sun spot cycle. But the latter has been so capricious that, if the condition is not vfavorable to them, they won't join any contest.
As I already wrote here in a post, there are more numbers of contests being held. It is amazing. There are no weekends when we could not hear a contest held anywhere in the world. Some club even holds contests in plain week day. They are often bumping each other in the same week end. It should be called as the inflation of contests. I don't know why they have planned so many contests throughout a year. Maybe, the planners, consciously or unconsciously, feel that there wre less people joining some contest and, if they plan more contests, it will help to recruit new contesters with newly planned contests. I am afraid this trial of recruit especially for young new comers has not been very successful. So far, I believe it results in inflation.
In the future, how shall contests be? I don't know about it, either. One fact is that it is the highest solar activity period right now and the contesters would spend a day or two for the events. They are becoming older now. I guess the average of the age is around 60 or so. In the next plateau of the solar cycle, they might be over 70 years of age. I wonder if they would spend time for this blood boiling but a little bit tiring event at that time.