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Delays, cost, performance are key issues for reef

Case Studies | June 1, 2010 | By:

A one-year delay in construction, with nearly double the initial cost estimates, and surfing conditions not meeting expectations have all been part of the experience for the first artificial surfing reef in Europe, which opened earlier this year off the south coast of England. Geosynthetics referenced this project in its October/November 2008 issue.

The reef, built with 55 sand-filled geotextile bags, is part of an overall beach rejuvenation project in Boscombe, Bournemouth, England. As reported in the British media, here are highlights from the past 8 months:

Nov. 2, 2009
Surf reef opens after year delay

Geotextile bags help create Europe’s first artificial surf reef”:

A £3M ($5M U.S.) artificial reef project expected to open a year ago was finally unveiled Nov. 2. near the seaside coastal village of Boscombe in southern England. Construction had been delayed for months by bad weather.

The reef, which more than doubled in cost since original estimates, was built by New Zealand-based ASR to enhance off-shore waves. It is part of an overall £11M ($17M U.S.) regeneration of the Bournemouth area’s seafront, including improvements at the coastal suburb of Boscombe.

The artificial reef was created to improve surfing conditions by using 55 sand-filled geotextile bags that were strategically placed 225m (740ft) off the coastline.

Nov. 6, 2009
Council seeks to recoup reef cost

Europe’s first artificial surf reef incurred an additional cost of more than £250,000 ($386,000 USD) … an audit committee will meet to discuss the reef.

A specialist team from Plymouth University has been enlisted to monitor the reef’s performance, to assess whether it is delivering the surfing conditions expected.

Nov. 27, 2009
Surf beach huts still unsold

Retro-style “surf pods” in the renovated 1950s Overstrand building, beachside in Boscombe, went on sale for £64,995–£89,995 ($100,000-$140,000 USD).

Despite a flurry of interest at a sales event (May 2009), only eight of the 43 units have been sold.

Feb. 9, 2010
Boscombe reef to host first surf contest

The Sorted Surf Festival will feature a number of categories for professional surfers March 20–21. The contest will be a chance to silence critics who say the reef does not work and is in the wrong place.

Feb. 26, 2010
Reviews and festival

Plymouth University, home of the UK’s first marine institute, is assessing the quality of the waves and the number of days suitable for surfing.

There has been a mixed response to the reef’s success from surfers who have tried waves … in March, the reef waves are to be featured during The Sorted Surf Festival.

March 22, 2010
Reef contest hailed as a success

An estimated 5,000 people turned out for the Sorted Surf Festival, held on the redeveloped Boscombe seafront during the weekend. Event organizers said they received positive feedback.

April 8, 2010
South coast ‘expects busy summer’

A busy Easter holiday weekend offered expectations for a busy summer at this redeveloped coastal area in south England.

Local tourist officials said hotel bookings are up, foreign travel appears to still be down because of the recession, and so-called “staycations” look like a boost for U.K. travel destinations.

The seaside Boscombe area of Bournemouth is banking on those trends, along with its centerpiece surf reef to increase the number of tourists this summer.

May 18, 2010
Surf reef is only ‘4 out of 10’

A marine expert yesterday confirmed what its critics have been saying for months—Europe’s first artificial surf reef is not working in the way civic chiefs had envisaged.

Mark Davidson from Plymouth University gave the £4 million Boscombe tourist attraction a score of just 4 out of 10 in a scale of its success.

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