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First artificial surf reef in Europe

By: / Industry News

Work is nearly completed in the building of Europe’s first artificial surf reef near Dorset in southwest England.

The project, estimated at £2.7 million (ca. $5.4 million U.S.), is designed to double the size of the waves at Boscombe, Bournemouth, to 4m (13ft) as well as greatly increase the number of good surfing days. Kerry Black, from ASR Ltd. in New Zealand, designed the surf reef after travelling through the Pacific Rim to study and measure 44 of the world’s best surf breaks.

The reef is constructed out of 55 sandfilled geotextile bags, varying in length from 15-70m (ca.16.5-76.5yd), ultimately covering an area of approximately 1 hectare (ca. 2.5 acres), or about the size of a soccer field, and situated 225m (246yd) from the shoreline. The artificial reef mimics the effects of a natural reef and will be built from large geotextile bags pumped hard with sand.

The total geotextile-bag configuration weighs approximately 2,500 metric tonnes (2,755 tons U.S.) and the biggest bags are up to 70m long, 2m high, and 6m wide (76 x 2.2 x 6.5yd).

The work began in July at a location near Poole with the construction of the bottom layer of the reef.

A mat was initially laid out and sewn together to minimize the structure sinking into the sand. A webbing base is then secured onto the mat, followed by the first sections of empty geotextile bags. These bags are tied together and sewn onto the base.

The structure will be loaded by crane onto a barge and transported out to sea, to the east of Boscombe Pier, where divers will help to install it. The bags will then be pumped full of the sand previously collected to create the reef.

This artificial surf reef is now 1 of 4 currently in the world, with others located off Narrowneck, Queensland; Cable, Western Australia; and Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand.

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