Get Ready for the ARRL November CW Sweepstakes
This year marks the 75th running of the premier domestic contest, the ARRL CW 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. "The contest exchange contains more elements than usual, an homage to the traffic-handling days of yore," he said. "If you have never participated in Sweepstakes, you are really missing out on some serious fun! 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 since 2008 is the 75th running of Sweepstakes, ARRL is anticipating record levels of participation and many prizes will be available for those who participate: "We'll have a special magnet that will be sent free to all stations that submit a log with 75 of the 80 ARRL and RAC Sections worked. 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 all 80 ARRL/RAC Sections; this is known as 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 Award 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.
"Certain Sections are always rare for Sweepstakes, especially on CW," Kutzko pointed out. "VY0/VY1/VE8 (Northern Territories), VE1-VE9-VY2 (Maritimes), VE2 (Quebec), VE4 (Manitoba), VE5 (Saskatchewan), VO1-VO2 (Newfoundland-Labrador), Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming always seem to be highly sought after. If you live in one of these places (or want to travel there), 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 CW is rusty or your station is modest, your effort to put a rare Section on the air during CW 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 CW Sweepstakes is guaranteed fun and excitement. Be sure to check out the complete rules and entry forms. Come be a part of one of Amateur Radio's finest traditions.