Work begins on Bournemouth Surf Reef
April 29, 2008
There were loud cheers as the first section of Bournemouth’s new surf reef was laid
onto the seabed at Boscombe beach this morning. The specially designed geo-mat
from New Zealand was rolled off the barge and guided into place by divers. The geo-
mat sits under the reef to stop it sinking into the sea bed. Strapped to the geo-mat are
empty geo-textile bags from Australia. The largest bags are 70 metres long, 6 metres
wide and 2 metres high. When in position, these bags will be pumped full of sand to
gradually form the shape of the reef. Once filled, the sandbags can weigh up to 2,500
The surf reef will cover one hectare of the ocean floor (about the size of a soccer
ground). It will be located 2.8 kilometres east of the Bournemouth Pier and 225
metres from the beach. The Bournemouth Surf Reef at Boscombe will be one of only
four artificial reefs in the world. The others are Narrowneck in Australia, and Opunaki
and Mt.Maunganui in New Zealand. The artificial reef will act like a ramp which
changes the way the waves break. The Bournemouth reef has been designed by
Australian surfer, Dr Kerry Black, to mostly provide a right-hand breaking wave.
Black is the world expert on artificial surfing reefs, having carefully measured the
world’s best surf breaks to find out how world-class waves are formed.
Narrowneck Reef on Australia’s Gold Coast is Australia’s first artificial reef.
The Marine and Fisheries Agency undertook extensive research to make sure the reef
would not increase coastal erosion. The artificial reef may actually provide protection
for the beaches because the wave energy drops before the waves reach the shore.
Experts predict the artificial reef will also provide a haven for marine creatures that
will colonise the surface as has occurred on other artificial reefs. A new thriving
marine ecosystem will eventually also provide a great location for divers.
Local councils and businesses are hoping the £2.68 million reef will attract many
more tourists to the region and provide new opportunities for accommodation, surf
wear and equipment sales, surf-training schools, and entertainment.