An international migration of amateur radio competitors and enthusiasts converge this week in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for The World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC), held from July 9 through 14, with headquarters in Westborough. The 7th quadrennial radiosport competition, the first held in the United States since 1996, hosts the world’s top amateur radio operators in 16 towns spanning the Route 495 corridor for the “Olympiad of amateur radio,” WRTC2014. Previous WRTC competitions have been held in Seattle (1990), San Francisco (1996), Slovenia (2000), Finland (2002), Brazil (2006), and Russia (2010).
WRTC2014 pits 59 two-operator all-star amateur radio teams, representing 38 countries, in a battle of operating skill and strategy under emergency field conditions, for personal and national pride on a world stage. Similar to Olympic athletes, competitors hone their skills for superior performance through mental and physical conditioning, talent, skill and strategy. This form of competition evolved as a method of practicing emergency communication, but also serves as a laboratory for technology innovation and experimentation, much like other technical sports, such as motor sports or sailing. Competing teams were selected from around the world in a series of 55 qualifying events over a 3-year period.
WRTC2014 teams will compete to contact other amateur radio stations in countries around the globe using both voice and Morse code transmissions. Top teams will operate without sleep for the entire 24-hour competition in an effort to contact as many stations and countries as possible, pursuing the highest score, to earn the distinction of “the best in the world.” Top level radiosport enthusiasts originate from all walks of life and a variety of professions. It is common for technology CEOs, emergency room physicians, retired diplomats, members of the military, and engineers to each compete on a level playing field with university students, bankers, grocery store managers or antique dealers.
Westborough’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel serves as team village, headquarters, and the venue for the WRTC2014 opening and closing ceremonies. On the global scale, thousands will “tune in” and participate over the airwaves, and follow the event’s real-time Internet scoreboard to stay abreast of competition results. The largest “radiosport” competitions draw activity from over 20,000 participants and can collectively include more than two million two-way contacts – all in one weekend.
Amateur radio plays a key role as a critical emergency service in times of disaster when other forms of communication fail. Locally, this was demonstrated after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, when cellular networks were overloaded and failed. Amateur radio operators have assisted in providing communication services to the Marathon for many years, and were on hand to provide vital communications for Marathon volunteers following the bombing. Critical communication services were also provided by hams during the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Radio amateurs have been involved in the front lines of developing modern communications systems, including the fundamental technology used in all cell phones.
2014 also marks the centennial anniversary of the founding of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) – the national association for amateur radio in the United States. ARRL assists people in obtaining their amateur radio license and promotes the wide variety of interests within the hobby. The ARRL will hold its national convention weekend following WRTC2014 in Hartford, CT. WRTC2014 is recognized by ARRL as a centennial celebration activity. Many WRTC participants and visitors are expected to stay in the area to attend both events.
The World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) is an international competition held every four years, consisting of 50+ two-person teams of amateur radio operators from around the world competing in a test of operating skill. Unlike most on-the-air competitions, all stations are required to use identical antennas from the same geographic region, eliminating all variables except operating ability. The WRTC 2014 committee is an independent organization created specifically to organize the event. For more information, visit www.wrtc2014.org or contact WRTC Chairman Doug Grant via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the history and results of previous WRTC events is available at www.wrtc.info.
About ARRL and the Amateur Radio Service
Amateur Radio (often called “ham radio”) provides the broadest and most powerful wireless communications capability available to any private citizen anywhere in the world. The principles of this federally licensed radio service include public service, radio experimentation, and international goodwill.
ARRL is the national membership association for amateur radio operators in the US. Its mission is “to promote and advance the art, science and enjoyment of amateur radio.” ARRL members span the globe, supported by the organization’s programs, activities, publications and experts. ARRL publishes books, software, online courses and resources for amateur radio licensing, operating, and education. ARRL and its members also provide outreach to schools and teachers, inspiring students to pursue education and careers in the fields of wireless technology (radio, electronics, and computers). Information about ARRL is available at www.arrl.org.