Boscombe Surf Reef
is an artificial reef
An artificial reef is a human-made underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, control erosion, block ship passage, or improve surfing....
built to enhance surfing
Surfing' is a surface water sport in which the surfer rides a surfboard on the crest and face of a wave which is carrying the surfer towards the shore...
conditions in Boscombe
Boscombe is a suburb of Bournemouth. Located to the east of Bournemouth town centre and west of Southbourne, It developed rapidly from a small village as a seaside resort alongside Bournemouth after the first Boscombe pier was built in 1888...
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...
The Boscombe Surf Reef is the first surfing reef to be constructed in the Northern Hemisphere. The town of Boscombe opted to build a surfing reef to provide a unique focal point for the town's multi-million pound waterfront redevelopment effort.
The idea came originally from David Weight a member of Wessex Surf Club whose proposals to Bournemouth council and initial research date from 1993, The reef is sometimes referred to as "Weights Reef".
The reef covers approximately one hectare and is located 225 metres from the Beach. Like most of the other reefs built to date, the Boscombe Reef was built from large sand-filled geotextile containers. With a total volume of 13,000 m3
, the reef was designed purely as a surfing break.
A study undertaken for Bournemouth council shows that prior to the reef there were 77 good surfing days, although surfing took place on 153 days, with a total of 5,000 surf visits to Boscombe per year. The intention was that the reef would double the number of good surfing days and it was hoped this would generate 10,000 visits. The original estimate for designing and building the reef was £1.4 million. The eventual cost was £3 million for the reef and a total of £11 million for the redevelopment of the seafront area and the refurbishment of the pier. This was funded by the sale of a car park on which Barratt Developments
Barratt Developments PLC is one of the largest residential property development companies in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1958 as Greensitt Bros. but control was later assumed by Sir Lawrie Barratt. It was originally based in Newcastle upon Tyne but is now located at David Wilson's former...
constructed the Honeycombe Chine Flats complex and the sale of Beach Pods which formed part of the Overstrand building.
| 11 Oct 1999
|| Bournemouth Council approve Feasibility Study
| 15 Nov 1999
|| Approval of Feasibility study specification and costs
| 16 Jun 2000
|| Bournemouth Council Tourism committee recommend proceeding in Principle
| 19 Nov 2003
|| Bournemouth Council Cabinet approve leisure content of Boscombe Spa Village proposals, including the surf reef, and, in principle, the potential full use of the capital receipt from the housing development for the leisure proposals.
| 06 Nov 2004
|| Authority given by Councillor Angela Manton, Cabinet Member for Strengthening Our Economy, to procure the Field Studies Data and Initial Design Study for the surf reef through ASR Ltd.
| 23 Feb 2005
|| Revised Boscombe Spa Village leisure proposals, following listing of Pier Entrance building, submitted to Cabinet.
Cabinet/Council approved the land-based proposals but requested a presentation from ASR Ltd on the initial designreport for the surf reef for the Cabinet to consider.
| 10 Jan 2007
|| First Phase of Works begins with the restoration of the Pier
| Feb 2007
|| Permissions for the reef submitted to DEFRA
| Jun 2007
|| Fisherman raise objections with DEFRA
| Oct 2007
|| Approval for the Surf Reef granted by DEFRA
| 30 Aug 2008
|| Works starts on Construction by ASR
| 13 Nov 2008
|| Work Suspended for Winter
| 18 Apr 2009
|| Work Restarts
| Sep 2009
|| Work completed, but opening delayed for safety checks and the right surfing conditions
| 19 Nov 2009
|| Reef Declared Officially open
| 31 Mar 2011
|| Reef closed for safety reasons. The council said following a scheduled six-monthly inspection, it was advising people not to use the reef while it underwent further work and maintenance, a routine inspection carried out on 23 March showed that "substantial changes" had altered the profile of the reef.
| Mid August 2011
|| Repair work begun by ASR
The reef which was originally suggested in the late 1990s suffered considerable delays before construction finally began in June 2008 by the New Zealand Company ASR Ltd. The geotextile bags were constructed in New Zealand and positioned from a barge. They were then filled with sand which had been stockpiled on the shore from a beach replenishment project(BIS4.2) the previous year. Half of the reef project was completed during the summer of 2008. Construction was suspended for the winter season and resumed the following summer. The reef was officially declared open on the 2 November 2009.
In December 2010 Bournemouth Council announced that ASR would return in the spring of 2011 to make modifications to the reef. Four bags were to be situated on the south-east corner of the reef and a further three pillow bags between existing sections of the reef. The intention is that the wave depth will be improved through the gentler slope thus created, resulting in the right-hand ride length extended to 65metres. ASR will receive £55,000 on completion of this work out of the £150,000 withheld final payment. In April 2011 one bag was removed and another repaired after what was suspected to be propeller damage from an unknown boat colliding with the reef.The reef was closed during the summer of 2011 having been closed for safety reasons in March, in July Bournemouth Councillor Rod Cooper, Cabinet Member for Economy & Tourism announced that ASR ltd would undertake the repair work and begin the improvement work in early August.
ASR Ltd began the repair work in mid August 2011. In October 2011 Bournemouth council announced that due to the autumn weather the repair and improvement work would not be completed until spring 2012.
In the first 18 months after construction there have been some occasions of good surfing conditions but the general reports from surfers were disappointing. In May 2010 the delayed interim report on the reef's performance from Dr. Mark Davidson of Plymouth University was published, it stated that the reef had only fully achieved four out of eleven of its design objectives. ASR claims the reef had met most of the design criteria but did agree with the reports conclusion that the waves produced were shorter than the design criteria required, Despite the negative press surrounding Boscombe Reef, a group of dedicated local surfers used it regularly before its closure for safety reasons.