Making waves in Boscombe
mchawk | August 30, 2008 at 04:45 amby
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Construction has begun on Europe's first artificial surf reef, 225 meters off the Dorset coast at Boscombe. This will be only the fourth such structure in the world and is the centrepiece to the local council's redevelopment plans for Boscombe's - a £10million make over that will transform the town's seafront
Although not world-renowned for its waves, Boscombe is already a popular resort for British surfers. It is hoped, once the reef is in place, that the number of good surfing days will double, providing a much needed boost to the local economy.Work had been scheduled to start back in July, but bad summer weather has added delays to what has already been a long wait, as the idea was first mooted nearly a decade ago.With current controvercies surrounding offshore constuction, this project has had none of the protests that dog the building of wind farms. Although the reef has been built to aid the local economy, it is hoped that it will also benefit local aquaculture.But it is undoubtably the locals who will reap the greatest benefits from this project.Perhaps Brittania will once again rule the waves. Surfs up!
Although not world-renowned for its waves, Boscombe is already a popular resort for British surfers. It is hoped, once the reef is in place, that the number of good surfing days will double, providing a much needed boost to the local economy.
Paul Clarke from Bournemouth Surfing Centre, says: “The reef spells a boom time for the area. Surfing first hit our beaches in the 1960’s and today Bournemouth has the third largest population of surfers in the country. For the 10,000 locals and a catchment that includes London, the reef promises to be a huge attraction, the nearest thing to an Atlantic roller this side of Cornwall. The reef will not only boost the area’s already thriving tourist industry but will encourage other watersports such as diving, windsurfing and provide a habitat for greater biodiversity”.
[Mr. Clarke] said: "We have been waiting for over 10 years for this day. It's a dream come true for the surfing community of Bournemouth."
The first section of the base, which consists of matting with webbing lattice and empty sandbags attached, will be taken by barge from Poole to the reef site 225m (740ft) out to sea, east of Boscombe Pier. Divers will attach the shore end to 10 tonne anchors on the seabed before the rest of the reef is unfolded from the barge along the site and anchored in place. The bags will then be pumped full of sand to form part of the bottom layer which will level the sea bed. The rest of the reef, which covers the size of a football pitch in total, will then be installed in stages.
The reef mimics the effects of a natural reef... [acting] as a ramp which changes the way the waves break. The reef has been designed to provide mainly a right-hand breaking wave of approximately 75m. The left-hand break of the reef is designed to roll down the reef and 'clean up' the short period chop that the dominant cross-shore wind creates. This will make the wave-face on the right-hander cleaner for surfing.
During clean swell conditions with light winds, the left-hander will also provide a 20m fast ride, which will likely be most favourable to body boarders. This is similar to the Narrowneck Reef on the Gold Coast in Australia, and the Mount Reef in New Zealand. It is expected that inshore of the reef, better surfing conditions will also occur due to the changes in wave-height gradients caused by the presence of the reef offshore, which result in sand banks with peeling and surfable waves.
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).
In calm weather, such as July or August, the reef will create a ‘lagoon’ along the shoreline offering safe, flat conditions for families and beach users.
Experts predict the reef itself is likely to become a busy habitat over time, with marine creatures colonising its surfaces and taking shelter within it, developing into a haven for wildlife that would not otherwise exist on a flat seabed.
...expert opinion says that it may also help with coastal defences. Other reefs built for both coastal protection and watersports have provided good protection on the beaches. This is because the wave energy drops before the waves reach the shore. The delay in processing the licence for the surf reef was due to the Marine and Fisheries Agency extensive consultation and research to ensure the reef would not have a negative impact on coastal erosion.
Roger Brown, Head of Leisure Services at Bournemouth Borough Council, says: “The area of Bournemouth and Poole already has an excellent reputation as a leading water sports destination, however the reef will make surfing in the UK far more accessible. What we are providing is a good surfing break, in a cosmopolitan, thriving resort alongside great facilities and award-winning beaches.”
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