ARRL Sweepstakes Celebrates Diamond Anniversary this Weekend
Fans of domestic contesting will take to the airwaves this weekend for the 75th running of the ARRL November SSB Sweepstakes. According to ARRL Contest Branch Manager Sean Kutzko, KX9X, the event started back in 1929 as a competition for handling formal traffic messages and is one of the oldest traditions in Amateur Radio. A complete primer by ARRL Contributing Editor H. Ward Silver, N0AX, on how to participate in Sweepstakes can be found in the Radiosport supplement in the October 2008 issue of QST.
Kutzko said that participation in the CW Sweepstakes two weeks ago netted some of the highest on-air participation in years: "For the bottom of the sunspot cycle, band conditions were stellar two weeks ago. We've already received almost 1000 logs for the CW portion. I hope conditions will be as good this weekend for the SSB Sweepstakes."
To commemorate this diamond anniversary, the ARRL is offering special prizes. All stations that submit a log with 75 of the 80 ARRL and RAC Sections worked will receive a special free magnet. As in previous years, those who submit logs with at least 100 contacts will be able to purchase Participation Pins.
The major challenge in Sweepstakes is to work a "Clean Sweep," or all 80 ARRL/RAC Sections. "We were concerned that Clean Sweeps would be tough to come by for the CW portion, but thanks to many hams who trekked out to activate some of the rarer Sections, there were many Clean Sweeps," Kutzko said. "We anticipate many more stations on the air for the Phone portion of Sweepstakes -- with a little bit of effort, you too can get a Clean Sweep."
Kutzko said this year's Sweepstakes is offering a special incentive to those stations that make a Clean Sweep. "This year, we will be awarding a Clean Sweep whisk broom to all stations that make a Clean Sweep," Kutzko said. "Brooms were last available in 1983, the 50th running of Sweepstakes. In addition to the free brooms, Clean Sweep coffee mugs will also be available for purchase. This year's mug will be fine etched glass and will truly be a collector's item."
Thanks to ICOM America, the Principal Awards Sponsor of the November Sweepstakes, certificates will be awarded for first place in each of the 80 ARRL/RAC Sections for all six entry categories; plaques will be available to the overall winners in each entry category, as well as the winners in each Division. "ICOM has provided plaques and certificates for Sweepstakes winners since 2005, and we are grateful for their support over the years," Kutzko said.
As with the CW Sweepstakes, Kutzko is encouraging stations in rare ARRL/RAC sections to get on the air and hand out their section. "Being on the other side of the pileup is tremendous fun. If you live in a rare section like North Dakota, Newfoundland/Labrador, Manitoba or several others, the QSOs you make will be greatly appreciated by everyone you work. If you live in one of these places, this is a golden opportunity for you to be the 'rare DX.' Stations in these Sections get to hear 'Thanks for the Sweep!' more than once during the weekend. Even if your station is modest, your effort to put a rare Section on the air during Sweepstakes will be appreciated by every single station that works you."
Whether you want to go for a Top 10 finish, or simply get on the air to hand out a few QSOs or work on your Worked All States Award (WAS), Kutzko said the November SSB Sweepstakes is guaranteed fun and excitement. Don't forget to submit your log to Logbook of The World (LoTW), too! Be sure to check out the complete rules and entry forms. Come be a part of one of Amateur Radio's finest traditions.