Battle of Britain Writeup and Results

by Steve Dunning
Posted: 13th Nov 2017

Battle of Britain: write up 2017

Having already being held at Depots in Nottingham and Leeds - The Battle of Britain appears to have settled in well to its new home in Manchester.  Last year's event was an absolute stunner, and Manchester had to work hard to produce the perfect sequel to The BOB didn’t disappoint.

This year the competition took on a different format to those of previous years, in that the qualifiers were split into morning and afternoon sessions. Over the years The Battle of Britain has grown and grown as a national bouldering competition and has developed a reputation as one of the UK’s foremost competitions. This (and a potential £2000 cash prize) attracted a plethora of keen competitors from across the UK to take part in this amazing climbing experience!

The qualifiers themselves provided appropriate challenge for both senior and junior competitors alike. Both were gifted their own circuit of 25 problems to go at, allowing for a fairer qualification for all ages. Each set of problems was developed with the intention of ascending difficulty, with some surprises thrown in for extra challenge. For example, when interviewed, Holly Toothill (one of the female finalists), voiced her particular struggle with number 7, a test of climbing finesse and technique to ascend the vertical problem using solely volumes. As more climbers took to the wall, the challenge increased and this heightened the atmosphere. The combination of keen climbers and Stone Roses remixes, set The Depot Climbing Centre abuzz – the scene was set for a thrilling conclusion. The curtains closed on the qualification rounds.

The Final

As the blocks for the finals were unveiled, we had our 6 finalists from the male and female senior open: Matt Cousins, Dave Barrans, Nathan Phillips, Orrin Coley, Max Milne and Billy Ridal as the male competitors and Holly Toothill, Eugenie Lee, Emily Phillips, Tara Hayes, Micheala Tracy and Imogen Horruks qualified as the female climbers.

It was agreed by all the athletes that the finals would take on the format of 4 minutes plus - this differs from what has become the IFSC standard for international competitions. However, this method seemed far superior to make the finals as action packed as possible.

Finals Problem 1

The first problem for each category took advantage of the slabbier areas on the left hand side of the competitionw all, both sets of problems requiring technique rather than just brute strength.

For Womens Problem 1, it quickly became clear that it was incredibly difficult to make the first move work. This hurdle initally stumped many of the competitors, with variations of raw power, and brilliant smearing generating solutions for many of the athletes. Although most eventually cracked it and carried on up through the tricky upper section, Tara Hayes could not seem to make anything work, and was unable to achieve the bonus hold on problem 1.

Holly Toothill came close to the top on this problem, dynamically attempting the final move but falling with her hand in the final hold. Micheala Tracy was the only female competitor to top the first problem, taking full advantage of the 4 minutes plus format to grasp the final match with the final timer reading red.

The First Men's Problem seemed to provide similar difficulty for each climber, with a tricky coordination dyno along a set of volumes starting out the bloc. Although some made this look simple, it did not seem to suit everyone. However, each competitor made it to the bonus hold after a few attempts, but a tough finish saw only 4 of them managing to fight their way to the top.
Nathan, Max and Matt all flashed their first problem, leaving Billy Ridal and Orrin Coley trailing, 

Finals Problem 2

Men's Problem 2 was vastly different from the first, as it forced competitors to make use of a jamming crack and to summon sheer strength to fight their way through to the more familiar holds in the roof. After this intial sequence came a display of flamboyant style from some climbers to reach the final match, Barrans showing some true class and experience using a knee bar in order to chalk up before the final move.

Orrin, Nathan and Matt all completed the problem with the same style and competence flaunted by Barrans. It was sadly a heartbreaking problem for Billy Ridal - who managed to ease his way to the top on his final attempt, but prematurely jumped off the climb before the judges give him the nod, leaving him with only a bonus hold for his efforts. 

Female Boulder 2 seemed equally as aggressive and overhanging, and was interpreted differently by each athlete. All competitors managed to complete the first dynamic move but seemed to use different beta in order to progress from this position. Imogen, Micheala, Holly, Tara and Emily all fought to the bonus hold by fully utalising the volumes available but none could maintain the tension on the penultimate double gaston to reach the final hold and all 5 left only achieving the bonus hold.

Finals Problem 3

The final problem for each category - Problem 3 - would decide who would be crowned champion of the Battle of Britain 2017.

For the males it was a tough cut loose move with a brutal rose manouver which proved most difficult, but all found a way to fight through it either by campusing or using some tricky footwork beta. With a tight field, separated only by attempts, Matt Cousins and Dave Barrans came out, and with the support of the crowd ticked this problem in only a few tries. But it was Nathan Phillips who came out with blood pumping, and managed to flash the final problem to make it clear that he would once again be Battle of Britain champion, making it two in a row.

Women's final problem three was also a tight affair, and although Micheala Tracy cruised to the top with ease, she had to endure a tense end to the competition as she waited for each of the other althetes to make their attempts. Tara, Emily and Imogen all valiantly topped this problem but as none of them flashed it, Micheala took the gold, with Emily Phillips finishing in 2nd and Imogen Horrocks in 3rd.

Final words

That’s it for the Battle of Britain 2017, however if this hasn’t quenched your competition thirst, many more events will be taking place in Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds.
Each centre’s winter league is currently in full swing, and Nottingham will be hosting BlocBuster 2017 on the 9th of December, so plenty to take part in the coming months.

As far as the Battle of Britain goes however, that’s a wrap until 2018.

Written by Johnny Cracknell