Norwell one of 16 venues for the World Radiosport Team Championship – news – Norwell Mariner

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The World Radio Sport Team Championship brings together the best amateur – or amateur – radio operators from around the world to see who can contact the most stations in a 24-hour period.

Sixteen New England communities, including the Norwell section of Wompatuck State Park, have been selected as operating sites for the world’s first amateur radio competition, which takes place July 9-14.

The World Radio Sport Team Championship brings together the best amateur – or amateur – radio operators from around the world to see who can contact the most stations in a 24-hour period.

New England were able to beat Bulgaria as host of the competition in part because July marks the 100th anniversary of the American Radio Relay League, according to Randy Thompson, who has attended five WRTC events and is in charge of marketing communications for WRTC 2014.

“This whole concept started in the United States in 1990 and then spread to every other country,” Thompson said. “Considering the anniversary of the ARRL, we thought it was the perfect time to bring the competition back to the United States.”

The first two competitions were held in Seattle and San Francisco in 1990 and 1996, respectively. Since then, Slovenia, Finland, Brazil and Russia have hosted the event.

Once New England was named as the host for 2014, organizers took on the challenge of finding suitable operating venues for the 59 two-member teams participating in the event. Each site should be on level ground, according to Thompson.

“It’s a big plus to be on top of a hill or near the ocean, and a big minus to be in the valley,” he said.

Organizers eventually found 65 sites, one for each team plus six spare, in public parks, protected lands, schools and even an airport. The sites range geographically from Hollis, NH to the Myles Standish State Forest, which straddles the Carver-Plymouth border, according to the event’s website. Eight of the operating sites are located in Wompatuck State Park.

“We found various places off the trail that we could reach that were out of the way but still met the requirements to be level,” said Thompson.

Amateur radio competitions take place almost every weekend, according to Thompson.

“But in these competitions we all compete at home,” he said. “We can compare our scores to other operators in our area, but we don’t know where they were installed, if they were near an ocean or on a hill.

The WRTC removes all of these variables and brings the best competitors together in one place.

“This competition allows operators to find out how they really stack up against people from other parts of the world,” said Thompson. “This is the big stage, the Amateur Radio Olympics.”

Teams from 31 countries have qualified for the WRTC after a series of 55 qualifying events over a three-year period. Scores are calculated based on the number of countries contacted. Each station has a point value, so it’s best to contact stations further away from the host country. The top teams are expected to contact around 100 countries over a 24-hour period this year.

Although the WRTC is a competition, it also functions as a gathering place for amateur radio operators around the world.

“The social part is almost as important as the competition,” said Thompson. “On amateur radio, we talk to people all over the world all the time, but WRTC allows us to meet. It’s a big deal to win and brag, but it’s also fun to meet everyone.

More than 450 volunteers will arrive on Wednesday July 9 to set up the sites for the competition which will take place from 8 a.m. on Saturday June 12 to 8 a.m. on Sunday June 13.

“The volunteers set up and monitor the sites,” said Thompson. “We really need them.

Between volunteers, competitors, referees and other guests, Thompson expects around 700 people to come to the event.

“Unfortunately, it’s not really a spectator sport,” he said. “It’s not very exciting to watch two guys sitting in a tent for 24 hours straight.”

It takes a lot of practice, time and understanding to be a good amateur radio operator.

“You have to deal with language and cultural barriers, weather and time of day issues,” said Thompson. “It’s fascinating because it’s never the same. Like fishing, you never know what you’re going to catch. You never know who you are going to come into contact with.

Follow Norwell News on Twitter @NewsNorwellMA.

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