For over 10 years the surfing community in Boscombe, Bournemouth in England has looked forward to the placement of an artificial reef off of their shores. Now, having pushed through with plans and overcoming opposing fishermen, as well as recent inclement weather, work has begun on the placement of what is set to become Europe’s first artificial surf reef. “We have been waiting for for over 10 years for this day. It’s a dream come true for the surfing community of Bournemouth,” said Paul Clarke of the Bournemouth Surfing Centre. “The reef will turn an unrideable knee high wave into a head high wave that peels perfectly for around 70m in length.”
Tinkering around with mother nature will always raise eye-brows and the disaster that was the Osborne Reef off of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has long since prompted questions about the risks of creating artificial reefs. However the Boscombe Beach project appears to pose much less of an environmental risk than something like the ill-fated tire reef.
This artificial surf reef will be built with 55 sand-filled “geotextile bags” being placed onto a webbing base and dropped over an area of sand roughly the size of a soccer field. The reef is expected to double the size of waves at Boscombe, as well as double the number of surfable days. It is part of a huge revamp of the area and the hope is that surfers will be drawn to the waves at Boscombe and bring their tourism dollars with them. “Surfing is a great niche to be tapping into – it’s a massively growing sport and has fabulous spectating potential too. I am really looking forward to seeing the fantastic difference this will make to the people of Boscombe and as an additional draw to Bournemouth as a whole,” said Bournmouth Councillor Rob Copeland.
“Surfing is a great niche to be tapping into” – There will be those who see tapping into the surfing niche by constructing artificial reefs as going too far. And while the Boscombe project appears to be environmentally sound, I would have to agree with the stance taken by Surfrider that Artificial Surf Reef Technology should be considered “feasible and appropriate as a potential source of mitigation for losses already incurred by the surfing public. Particularly in areas where man-made structures have materially altered the natural state of the coastal zone”. In other words… If there weren’t surfable waves there to begin with it’s probably better to leave it that way, no matter how potentially great the financial gains may be. While the plan appears to be full-proof, with mother nature…it’s far better to err on the side of caution.
Posted by Shaun on Friday, August 29th, 2008 in Surfing.