On Sunday 12th October the Depot Climbing Centre Leeds held its 5th annual Battle of Britain competition. The competition has grown year on year and the numbers increase annually. This year was no exception and we saw a record turnout of 240 competitors, although along for the ride were dozens more friends/family, fans and Depot regulars sniffing out the free food and Naylor’s beer on tap!
Climbers had travelled from as far away as London town, Wales, Newcastle and even Shropshire which sounds down south too. The format of the competition is a qualification of 30 boulder problems of increasing difficulty. This qualification comp would also serve as the final scores in both the Junior and Veteran categories. Whereas the top 5 seniors would face off in a 3 problem final. At 4pm the last of the scores were handed in and Dan went to work on the spreadsheet, sorting them into order. Almost all categories had the top 3 separated by unique scores.
The 7-11 age group had 10 of their own problems to attempt before getting stuck into the first 20 of the adult climbs. In the boys, Jack Goodyear took top honours in a closely contested group, followed by Oscar Stephenson-Wright and both Josh Ibbertson and George Stables in 3rd. The girls saw a tie for 1st with Robin Casey and Anya Forino ticking 29 of 30 problems!! Maryke Booth was just behind in 3rd.
The 12-15 groups were pitched straight in the deep end with the problems as they had to perform on all 30 senior problems. Some of the scores were very impressive in this category and would have resulted in a high placing in the seniors. In the 12-15 boys category, 2 GB Team Members, Tommy Matthews and Jack Ramsden took 1st and 2nd respectively with Toby Chan completing the podium places. In a very strong girl’s 12-15 group, Izzy Weaver just came out on top, with 3 girls, Holly Rayfield, Katie Williams and Holly Toothill ties in 2nd.
Year on year the vet’s category grows in both numbers and competitiveness. This year’s men’s vet was won by comp ‘New Boy’ Lee McAvoy, Ossetts strongest teacher? Maybe! Steve Blake 2nd and Craig Allsopp 3rd followed some distance behind. The women’s vets’ title was taken by Joanna Goorney, with Lyane Haywood and Ali Culshaw making up the top 3.
As the scores were delivered, the free food arrived and the top 5 seniors left for their isolation while the final problems were unveiled. Each completed scorecard gave entry to the raffle. Our kind sponsors Scarpa and Grivel provided loads of raffle prizes.
At 5.50pm out came the finalists for a quick observation of their 3 final problems, to work out sequences to success before returning to isolation. Steve had the crowd ramped up and as the first competitors came out the crowd went wild! First out was Joe Swales of York and Lucy Englert of Sheffield. The finals problems had been set almost entirely on volumes this year by Ian Vickers, which made reading the sequences much more taxing. Lucy struggled to get to grips with the awkward start to women’s problem 1 and failed to reach the bonus. Meanwhile, Joe on the men’s dyno problem topped on his 5th attempt.
Following Lucy on women’s one were Flo Tilley and Jennifer Wood who both had worked out a way of reaching the bonus hold, a scooped out egg shaped volume. They just couldn’t get themselves established on it, whereas both Tara Hayes and Diane Merrick eventually, after much grovelling reached the finish hold. Over on men’s one, the British Team triumvirate of James Garden, Nathan Phillips and Dave Barrans all flashed the dyno…Game on!
We then had a short interlude whilst the crowd moved around to a better view of problem 2. More volume hugging for both men and women. After a slow start getting off the deck, Lucy worked out the correct beta and topped on her 5th go. Neither Flo nor Jennifer got past the confusing feet first start which was obviously incredibly frustrating. Diane didn’t need a sequence as it happened and she just squashed and squeezed her way up the volumes like a wrestler in a clinch on her second attempt. Then out came Tara, using similar beta to Diane she cruised up 2nd go.
Men’s 2 had seen off both Joe and Tom Green of Sheffield before the bonus hold, whilst both Nathan (2nd go) and James (3rd go) had topped. Indeed James had jumped off after matching the penultimate hold on his flash attempt, thinking he had topped it! As usual out came Dave and dispatched first go, a theme he was keen to keep up.
The last problem for both women and men had been set on the comp wall, a steep start to a short headwall. A difficult compressed start on the female climb saw off Jennifer Wood, whilst both Lucy and Flo progressed to the bonus undercut but couldn’t reach the crimp on the lip slow enough to stick it. Diane locked her way past their high point and looked all set to flash it, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and never again reach her highpoint. The stage was set for Tara and she did not disappoint! Making the climbing look easy topping the delight of the crowd on her first attempt. A new women’s champion and only 19 years old, with Diane in second and the impressive Lucy Englert in 3rd.
Over on men’s 3 a tremendously shoulder busting start had stopped Joe Swales and Tom Green in their tracks. Both James Garden and Nathan had reached the bonus side pull on their first attempt, and Nathan had stared up at the next volume, miles away in another postcode but couldn’t make it stick. Out came Grandmaster Flash Dave Barrans at the end of a long year of comps and outdoor success. He looks in the mood and as he pulls on there’s an air of expectancy. He reaches the bonus, jumps to the last volume, readjusts hands, moves feet, lowers his body to generate push and attacks the final hold with Gusto…Latched!!! Dave reclaims his crown as BOB CHAMPION 2014! Pushed all the way as expected by both Nathan Phillips in 2nd and James Garden 3rd.
The prize ceremony followed with Depot Director Luke Bowers handing over literally massive cheques to the podium. The crowds started to disperse with talk already of coming back next year and of the impending Blocbuster at The Depot Nottingham on 22nd November.
Thanks as usual go to our perennially generous sponsors Scarpa and Grivel, giving mountains of boots, bags and pads etc. as usual. Thanks to our competitors and their families who make the day such a success!
Report by Rob Haigh. Video by Patrick Taylor. Photos by Dan Crossdale