The most important event of the year is always the Stew Perry Contest, usually on the last week-end of December. This event has established itself as the “friendly” 160 meter contest.While it enjoys strong activity, the band is slightly less crowded than the major 160 meter contests.This provides more opportunities for the “non super stations” to make intercontinental QSOs.
I’m not a contester any more, but I participated every year since 1997 with the same working conditions and the following raw results, which well indicate the solar cycle behaviour. There are no multipliers and the score is given by the sum of the “distances” of every QSO.
The 2008-2009 editions of the contest should had shown an “eleven years” recurrence with the beautiful DX conditions we enjoyed in 1997: a great opening with California and all the West Coast from to our sunrise! With those low numbers of the solar minimum we strongly hoped they should have repeat… there were good conditions with Japan, but all the NA signals were weak and not yet any station heard from West Coast. That’s a pity, because the band was wide open until a few days before…with same solar and geomagnetic numbers, and we had again a great opening with the West Coast a couple of days later! See this page. But just as opposite, most of the East and North European stations have been enjoying great conditions during this event: it seems they are much more favoured by the current deep solar minimum and the absence of aurora and are taking advantage on the high latitude paths better than us.
The 2010 edition has been even worse, with the eastern path to Asia and Japan almost disappeared and lower overall activity, but we should be not yet on the declining side of the lowband cycle….
The 2011 edition reversed once again. Great conditions with Japan and Asiatic Russia but very poor and spotty with North America: worked some States like MN and NM but only one W2 and one W3 on the East Coast!
Just in time for the 2016 edition with new antennas after coming back home from Ecuador, but not yet full ready…..