On the basis that not much slips past the eagle-eyed SOTA enthusiasts, some of you may have already noticed that there is a new version of the General Rules on the website as of this morning. This contains a few changes, either to clarify areas identified as open to misinterpretation during the preceding year, or to ease the process of adding further SOTA Associations around the world.
So, what has changed, and why?
The permissible format of SOTA reference numbers has been changed. Out goes the option of “W-VA/BM-001”, which was rather unwieldy and was never used, and in comes a possible three-character prefix “EA8/GC-001”. This clarifies the options for potential new Association such as Liechtenstein (HB0) and the Canaries (EA8).
The wording of the rule about validity of QSOs from a summit has been amended to specifically allow QSOs across the boundary of the Activation Zone whilst on the same hill. Such activities are quite common in SOTA, especially on VHF, and this change merely clarifies that they are indeed within the rules.
The rules relating to activations of summits “shared” between two or more SOTA Associations have been clarified. It became clear during 2007 that the previous rule regarding different ascents was confusing and open to misinterpretation. The rule now allows activation of only one reference for a shared summit on any one day, and further defines that day as 00:01 until 23:59 UTC. This makes it possible for the database to automatically check for compliance, as all database records are in UTC.
The same definition of a day (00:01 until 23:59 UTC) has also been added to the rule regarding claiming of Chaser points. This may have implications for those of you who chase the “overnight-stay” activations which appear from time to time. However, its prime objective is to clarify the situation for chasing far-away summits where local time is significantly different from UTC. It was necessary to address this issue with the continued spread of SOTA around the world. Once again, it makes it possible for the database to correctly allocate Chaser points without the complications of checking local time.
The guideline for percentages of summits in each scoring band has been removed. Whilst its intentions were well-meaning, it was clearly impossible to enforce, especially in smaller Associations, or where additional summits are subsequently identified. The intent will be retained as part of the approval process for new Associations to ensure that a wide range of scoring opportunities exists.
There is now a specific provision to allow less than six scoring bands in an Association where the total number of summits, or the general topography, does not lend itself to more. This has already been done in the case of Belgium and the Isle of Man, but now the process is fully documented.
With the increase in the number of SOTA Associations, the MT felt it prudent to legislate for a situation where an Association Manager position becomes vacant for any reason. Rather than allow the Association to become moribund, the new rule allows the MT to take over whilst the process of appointing a new AM takes place.
Finally, there are some changes to the wording regarding prominence of a SOTA summit. These are not the result of the on-going review involving the MT and the various AMs, neither are they prejudging the outcome. This change was made solely to clarify the requirements for the benefit of applicant Associations. Once the full review of the related issues is complete, there may be further changes or clarifications.
The new General Rules became effective on 10th January 2008, although I’m sure that anybody who has inadvertently fallen foul of their retrospective application will not be judged harshly! They are also available in French at Summits on the Air
73 de Les, G3VQO
obo SOTA Management Team