From Australia to Boscombe – Surf Reef bags ordered


Bournemouth Borough Council has announced it has now placed orders for the specialist bags and webbing base for the construction of the artificial surf reef in Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset.


The contracts with a total value of over £500,000 have been let with ELCO, the Australian-based geotextile* bag manufacturer and Unique, the New Zealand based webbing manufacturer.  The companies have developed these specialised products in associated with ASR Ltd, the New Zealand-based company which has designed the reef.


The webbing base and 55 bags, which vary in length from 15 metres to 70 metres will cover an area the size of a football pitch, and be positioned underwater 225 metres out to sea to the east of Boscombe Pier.


The first of three consignments, which will include the webbing base and first section of the bottom layer of bags, will arrive in the UK at the end of May 2008, having travelled 12,000 miles (19,000 km) by sea. The reef will be constructed during the summer months, when there are calmer sea conditions. The sand needed to construct the reef has been harvested from the beach replenishment programmes that took place in 2007 and 2008, and is being stored on Boscombe beach.


New Zealand-based Dr Kerry Black is the designer of the reef. ASR Ltd, Dr Kerry Black’s company, has been revealed as the constructor of the reef, on a performance-based contract, ensuring the reef will perform to pre-stated standards.


Stephen Macloughlin, Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council says: “The idea of building Europe’s first artificial surf reef in Boscombe, Bournemouth has been transformed from an exciting proposal, to a reality. The construction timetable is on track to allow the reef to be completed, providing there are favourable weather conditions, by the end of October this year. As ASR Ltd has been commissioned on a performance-based contract to construct the reef, this is the most efficient, lowest-risk strategy for the Council and simply makes sense.”


Updates on the surf reef and the construction process can be found at:


* Geo-textile bags are environmentally inert and so the material will not harm marine life.  The outer layer of the bag is in a coarser material which will encourage colonization by marine life.





Bournemouth Surf Reef in Boscombe will be one of four artificial reefs worldwide: Narrowneck, Queensland; Cables, Western Australia and Mt.Maunganui, New Zealand.


The surf reef will not generate waves, but will amplify the existing surf. It has been reported that the reef will create 13ft waves. This is not correct as the surf reef is expected to double the size of the existing surf. The reef will provide a ride of up to 75 metre to the right, with two shorter left-hand rides.


The reef mimics the effects of a natural reef, acting as a ramp, pushing waves upwards, doubling in size, and shaping them into good-quality surfing waves. Doubling the height of the surf will also mean that the number of good surfing days will double. The reef at Boscombe is designed to provide a grade 5 wave on a day with good swell which is in the challenging range (Hawaii Pipeline is a grade 8).


What is the economic value of the reef?

A Council Economic Impact Assessment has suggested that the reef will provide direct income of up to £3million per annum. It will create an image value of £10million p.a. resulting from a variety of media. It will generate an estimated 60 full-time and 30 part-time jobs. A survey in Cornwall revealed that surfers spend 8% more than other holidaymakers.


Who is Dr Kerry Black?

Dr Kerry Black is the managing director of ASR Ltd and the designer of the Boscombe surf reef. He is the Director of an Australian research institute and a top research scientist in the esteemed National Institute of Water and Atmosphere in New Zealand. He has published over 400 scientific documents and written or been the subject of hundreds of popular articles, television interviews and newspaper articles. He edited the world’s first scientific journal issue on offshore reefs for coastal protection and recreation (surf reefs).


Dr Kerry Black has travelled the entire Pacific Rim and measured 44 of the world’s best surf breaks, to find out what makes a world-class wave and, ultimately, how to replicate it artificially.



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