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ASR designed surfing reef ‘a laughing stock’ among surfers

ASR designed surfing reef ‘a laughing stock’ among surfers
November 23, 2014

A New Zealand designed artificial surfing reef on the south coast of England has been largely abandoned by surfers, with locals saying that the once innovative structure is now a "laughing stock."

Opened in November 2009 following a number of delays and setbacks during building works, the reef, designed by Raglan, New Zealand-based ASR Ltd, was created by geo-textile sandbags being fixed to the seabed, nearly 225 metres from the shore east of Boscombe pier in Dorset.

The large geo-textile bags, pumped hard with sand and covering roughly the size of a football pitch, mimic the effects of a natural reef and act like a ramp, pushing waves upwards and shaping them into powerful barrels.

However, soon after opening, it was discovered that the reef was producing 'the wrong kind of waves', rendering it inaccessible for many potential users. ASR had been tasked with repairing the faults but the reef was then hit by a boat, causing structural damage that forced a long term closure in April 2011.

Surfers have long been critical of the reef's waves, with local surfing coach Tom Hatcher telling the BBC "no one has surfed on the reef for a couple of years.

"I can’t speak for everyone but it seems they’re giving up on it as a surf venue.”

Local surf shop sales assistant Elliot Withers added that the surf reef had become a "bit of a laughing stock".

The reef reopened in April after delays while Bournemouth Borough Council waited for insurance money to fund repair work. ASR Ltd had been due to undertake the repairst, but missed its deadlines and then went into liquidation in 2012.

The cost of the project, originally estimated at £1.4 million (US$2.2 million), blew out to £3.2 million (US$5 million).

An independent 2010 report from Plymouth University found that the reef was ‘sub standard’ and that it achieved only four of its 11 objectives.

Built as part of a plan to regenerate the suburb of Boscombe, the reef has had some unexpected success.

Because of the amount of time the reef was closed, it attracted a large amount of marine life which has now enabled Bournemouth Borough Council to rebrand it as part of Coastal Activity Park.

Within the Park, the Council is encouraging divers and snorkellers to use the reef while kite and wind surfers and body and paddle boarders are also being targeted as users. Designed to further regenerate the area, the Coastal Activity Park includes a multi-sports arena, sporting events site and a dinghy park.

However, the liquidation of ASR, the poor performance of the Boscombe reef and the removal of another ASR reef at Mount Maunganui, casts doubt on the future of artificial surf reefs.

Currently there are no proponents of artificial surf reefs to be found while in a new venture, eCoast, former ASR Technical Director Dr Shaw Mead references multi purpose reefs in relation to coastal protection rather than for the generation of recreational surf.

Image courtesy of Bournemouth Borough Council.

12th May 2014 - BAY OF PLENTY REGIONAL COUNCIL TO REMOVE MOUNT MAUNGANUI ARTIFICIAL SURF REEF 

23rd November 2012 - ASR LIQUIDATION CAST DOUBTS OVER FUTURE OF ARTIFICIAL SURF REEFS

25th May 2010 - PAY-AS-YOU-SURF ARTIFICIAL REEF FOR THE GOLD COAST?

20th January 2010 - ARTIFICIAL DIVE REEF FOR GOLD COAST?

26th November 2009 - KIWI TECHNOLOGY BEHIND EUROPE’S FIRST ARTIFICIAL SURF REEF 

13th August 2009 - GREAT OCEAN ROAD TO GAIN DIVING WRECK

2nd October 2008 - ASR AT WORK ON UK SURF REEF


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The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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