During my third trip in the US, in August/September 1992, while in the Los Angeles area, I had the chance to operate in the North American Sprint Contest from the shack of Rick, WB6OKK (now W6SR).
In spite of my lack of experience, doing everything "old style" with paper & pencil, I ended with 225 QSOs. Do I need to say that it was a lot of fun? (...then, when I knew that a couple of years before OH2BH did only 200 Qs, I started flying over the trees and it was hard getting be back on the ground!)
When I came back home, I wrote a couple of articles: one in my monthly contest column in Radio Rivista and one in NCJ. Both articles were titled "A stupid contest" and you can read the English version.
Naming the Sprint "a stupid contest" was obviously a joke and I immediately started dreaming of putting together a similar event in Europe.
In late 1993 I started sending some letters to my 1990 WRTC friends and a couple of them (OK2FD and G4BUO) immediately answered and enthusiastically agreed to cooperate. We were looking for involvement from at least one more, large country and we found it when DL6RAI agreed to be with us and also brought the support of B.C.C. - the Bavarian Contest Club.
Email was still rare so a lot of faxes crossed the Old Continent. Eventually we decided to start even if we were not really ready: it was the autumn of 1994. We agreed that the only difference from the NA Sprint had to be in the multipliers: no multipliers in this contest to limit the possibility of giving an advantage to some of the tiny European countries.
Being impossible getting our national Radio Societies involved in this event, the E.S.G. - European Sprint Gang was created.
In 1994 we had only two Sprints but we switched immediately to the four-event formula in 1995. After this, things happened quickly: now we have a choice of MS-DOS software to handle the Sprint, thanks to DL2NBU and IK4EWK. Both programs are shareware and are distributed completely free.
An honest log checking process was one of our goals and now we have very sophisticated software that cross checks all the data, ensuring a fair results ranking for all participants.
Soon another article was printed, this time on CQ Contest and its title was "The European Version of a Stupid Contest"
After the second year's set of contests, the Eu Sprint was opened to non-Eu entrants, but they must work only Eu stations. This disadvantages non-Eu stations, but the exception was ZD8Z who entered the Sprint once, won it and set a new record.
At the beginning we decided to avoid prizes but since 1997 we have offered a colorful certificate to the winners and now we issue a certificate to the leaders in each country. A special plaque is also awarded to the top three scores from all four contests combined. To be eligible for this award an operator must enter at least three of the Sprints in the year.
So, much water passed under the bridges since that 1992 NA Sprint and the EU Sprint Contest now has its own group of enthusiasts that never miss one.
As it happens in the US, the locations placed in the "corners" of the battle-field have some advantage and who lives in the middle of the field must fight even stronger to climb the final listings but this is part of this nice game.
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